Homeless Youth Services
Federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
When students are at risk of losing a place to live, living in compromised and temporary conditions, or if they become unhoused, they have a right to remain in their school of origin, or the local attendance area school.
Napa County Officer of Education (NCOE) Community Programs works in collaboration with local school districts to ensure that homeless students are enrolled in and attend school, have opportunities to receive needed assistance, and are given the opportunities to succeed in all areas of school life including academics, athletics, clubs, and events.
Families in transition face many hardships and this stress affects their children’s ability to concentrate in school. By following the McKinney Vento district procedures, school can remain a safe, secure and important part of student’s lives during these difficult times.
Napa County Coordinator: Jeannie Puhger | 707-253-6954
Napa Valley Unified School District Liaison: Tara Bianchi | 707-253-3485
Homeless youth living alone:
Community Action of Napa Valley, Shelter Services Program Director (707) 253-6100 ext. 108
Homeless youth under 18 living with family:
Samaritan Family Center (707) 253-6145
Local information and resources for homeless families, school or agency staff:
Community Action of Napa Valley, www.canv.org , has many community resources including Shelter, CANV Kids, and the Food Bank.
Definition of Homelessness
- In a shelter such as a family, domestic violence, or youth shelter or transitional living program
- In a motel, hotel, or weekly-rate housing
- In shared housing with more than one family due to loss of housing or economic hardship
- In an abandoned building, car, campground, or on the street
- In temporary foster care or temporarily with an adult who is not his/her parent or guardian
- In substandard housing (without electricity, water, or heat)
- With friends or family because they are a runaway or unaccompanied youth
If a child lacks “fixed, regular, and adequate housing,” federal and state laws require immediate school enrollment for that child even without proof of residency or medical, school, or legal guardianship records. While those records are still required, they may not bar the student from being enrolled and attending classes. Schools provide homeless students with:
- Immediate Enrollment
- Assistance with transportation
- Free and reduced meals
- Support to succeed in school
- Referrals as need to education or community based services
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act mandates that all local school districts have a homeless education liaison ensuring that:
- Homeless children and youth are identified
- Homeless students are immediately enrolled and attend school regardless of paperwork barriers (such as lack of address or proof of immunizations)
- Homeless families, children, and youth receive all educational services for which they are eligible and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in school
- Parents or guardians are informed of the educational opportunities available to their children
- Homeless students have the right to remain in their school of origin (school attended when permanently housed or last enrolled) for the duration of their homelessness or until the end of the academic year in which they move into permanent housing
- Unaccompanied youth are assisted in placement/enrollment decisions
- Enrollment disputes are mediated
- If a parent/guardian is having difficulty enrolling a homeless child in school, they should contact the homeless education liaison for their school district. Schools should protect the dignity of families in transition by following the procedures established by their district under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, including confidentiality.
School of Origin
- Best Practices: School Selection for Students in Out-of-Home Care PDF (external link)
In this document, the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education and the National Center for Homeless Education present provide a framework for local homeless education liaisons, educators, child welfare caseworkers, and other child welfare advocates for assessing best interest when selecting a school for students in out-of-home care. While the brief focuses on students “awaiting foster care placement” under the McKinney-Vento Act, it provides information relevant to school selection and school stability for all children and youth in out-of-home care.
Two federal laws give children and youth in out-of-home care certain rights to remain stable in one school despite changes in their living placement: The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act.
- California Department of Education: Homeless Education This section of the CDE website provides information about homeless students’ right to enroll in and attend school, participate fully, and succeed. It also provides information about the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act.
- National Center for Homeless Education The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) at SERVE is the U.S. Department of Education’s technical assistance and information center in the area of homeless education. For assistance with homeless education issues, contact the NCHE helpline at 1-800-308-2145 (toll-free) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. NCHE publishes many helpful resources for students, parents, and school site staff. Schools and districts may order materials directly online.
- Social Advocates for Youth Parent, guardians, and children who are experiencing homelessness may contact Social Advocates for Youth for support and resources.
- California Coalition for Youth (CCY) The California Coalition for Youth (CCY) is a statewide grassroots nonprofit organization that serves disconnected youth ages 12-24 throughout the state.
- NCLB Implementation and Coordination, contact Leanne Wheeler at (916) 319-0383 or 1-866-856-821
- Napa County: For homeless youth living alone call Community Action of Napa Valley, Shelter Services Program Director (707) 253-6100, ext. 108. Homeless youth under 18yrs old living with family should call the Samaritan Family Center (707) 253-6145
- National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, contact Barbara Duffield at (202) 364-7392.
- National Center for Homeless Education, contact Diana Bowman at school site staff. Schools and districts may order materials directly online.
- National Law Center on Homeless and Poverty, contact Joy Moses at (206) 638-2535
- National Network for Youth
Law and Policy
- NCOE Board Policy
- NVUSD Board Policy