Homeless Education

McKinney-Vento legislation requires that students and families facing instability in housing are supported in their educational needs.  The North Carolina Homeless Education website provides a link to information and resources for students, unaccompanied youth, parents/legal guardians, school staff, and community partners. Pamlico County Schools' program for students identified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act includes:
  • Equal access to educational and other services
  • Collaborative services for instructional support
  • Information for parents regarding educational rights of homeless students
  • Information regarding educational rights of homeless unaccompanied youth
  • Immediate enrollment, child nutrition, and transportation services
  • Identification and removal of barriers to enrollment, learning, and involvement
  • Parental involvement opportunities
  • Student advocacy
  • Educational and special needs assessments with appropriate placement
  • School social work, counseling, and nursing services
  • Title I program support
  • Community partnerships


42 USC§11431 - STATEMENT OF POLICY the following is the policy of the Congress:
(1)  Each State educational agency shall ensure that each child of a homeless individual and each homeless youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths.
(2)  In any State that has a compulsory residency requirement as a component of the State's compulsory school attendance laws or other laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as a barrier to the enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youths, the State will review and undertake steps to revise such laws, regulations, practices, or policies to ensure that homeless children and youths are afforded the same free, appropriate public education as provided to other children and youths. 
(3)  Homelessness alone is not sufficient reason to separate students from the mainstream school environment.
(4)  Homeless children and youths should have access to the education and other services that such children and youths need to ensure that such children and youths have an opportunity to meet the same challenging State student academic achievement standards to which all students are held.
Children or youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including:
  • Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason
  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations
  • Living in emergency or transitional shelters
  • Living in a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
  • Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
  • Migratory children living in the above circumstances
  • Unaccompanied youth living in the above circumstances
Homeless students and unaccompanied homeless youth are ensured the same educational rights under the McKinney-Vento Act, which include the right to:
  • Enroll immediately, even if they do not have paperwork normally required for enrollment
  • Attend either the local attendance area school or the school of origin, with the placement decision based on the student's best interest
  • Remain in the school of origin for the duration of the homelessness or until the end of the school year in which the student becomes permanently housed
  • Receive transportation to and from the school of origin
  • Receive educational services, such as free school meals, Title I services, participate in gifted and talented programs, vocational education, alternative education, and any other services comparable to what housed students receive
  • Not be stigmatized or segregated on the basis of their status as homeless
In addition to the provisions that apply to all homeless students, the McKinney-Vento Act includes the following provisions specifically for unaccompanied homeless youth:
  • Unaccompanied homeless youth shall be immediately enrolled without proof of guardianship
  • During a dispute over school selection or enrollment, unaccompanied homeless youth shall receive a written statement explaining the school's decision, the youth's right to appeal the decision, and a referral to the local liaison.
Local Liaisons shall assist unaccompanied homeless youth in:
  • Selecting a school of attendance and enrolling in school.
  • Requesting transportation to and from the school of origin.
  • Enrolling in school immediately while disputes are resolved.

Must schools enroll students experiencing homelessness who do not have previous schools records?
Yes. Students experiencing homelessness must be enrolled in school while waiting for the previous school records to be received. Parents can request copies of critical documents such as Individualized Educational Program (IEPs), gifted testing records, and report cards from the student's previous school. 

Schools must immediately enroll homeless children and youth, even when:

  • School or health records are unavailable at the time of enrollment.
  • Birth certificates are not available.
  • Proof of residency is not available


Can a school require proof of residency (rent / lease agreement, utility receipt) that prevents or delays enrollment?
No. Students experiencing homelessness, by definition, lack a fixed residence and cannot be required to provide traditional proof of residency.

Must a school enroll children or youth without proof of immunizations or physicals?
Yes. The school must enroll students who do not have health records if they fall under the definition of homeless. The school should refer the family or youth to the school's social worker or Nancy Ross, LEA Liaison for McKinney-Vento, for assistance in obtaining the necessary documentation.  


Attendance and Success
Students with appropriate support are more likely to attend school on a regular basis. Attendance is critical in realizing success in school.

  • Homeless students must receive services comparable to those of housed students.
  • Transportation to the school of origin must be provided, when appropriate.
  • Homeless families and unaccompanied youth must be fully informed of available enrollment options and educational opportunities.
  • Separate schools or programs for homeless children and youth are prohibited, with the exceptions of several programs specifically named in the McKinney-Vento Act.
Pamlico County Schools, McKinney-Vento Liaison:  Nancy Ross,  email:  [email protected] phone:  (252) 745-4171, ext 641
NC Homeless Education Program, Lisa Phillips, State Coordinator, email:  [email protected]
School Year Unique Number of Homeless Students Reported in Pamlico County Schools
2017-2018 16
2018-2019 135
2019-2020 24
2020-2021 11


North Carolina Data 


National Data