Student Services » McKinney-Vento & Homelessness

McKinney-Vento & Homelessness

The Norwin School District Policy 251, based on the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, defines homelessness and provides guidelines for the District’s responsibility to students who are experiencing homelessness receiving a free, appropriate public education through:
  • School stability
  • Immediate enrollment
  • Support for academic success

A family or student is considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento definition if they are in any of these places or situations:
Public or private shelters
Public or private places not designated for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodations such as vehicles, parks, motels, campgrounds, etc.
  • Living with a parent in a domestic violence shelter
  • Living with relatives or friends due to lack of housing
  • Living in transitional housing programs
  • Runaway children (under 18 years of age) and children and youth who have been abandoned or forced out of their home by parents or other caretakers (unaccompanied youth). These children may be in temporary shelters awaiting assistance from social service agencies, or may live alone on the street or move from place to place among family members, friends or acquaintances
  • Children of migrant families who lack adequate housing
  • Children abandoned in hospitals or awaiting foster care
The Norwin School District shall, according to each child’s or youth’s best interest, continue the student’s education in the school of origin for the duration of homelessness and until the end of the academic year in which the student becomes permanently housed. When remaining in the school-of-origin is not in the student’s best interest or not what the parent, guardian, or youth requests, students are entitled to immediate enrollment in any public school that students living in the same attendance area are eligible to attend. Enrollment for students experiencing homelessness needs to be completed regardless of the availability of required registration documents or missed deadlines during any period of homelessness. 
Unaccompanied homeless youth may enroll without documents and without the help of an adult. Unaccompanied homeless youth includes any child who is “not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.” Falling within this definition are students who have run away from home, been thrown out of their home, or been abandoned or separated from their parent(s) or guardian(s).
When determining a student’s best interest, the following factors are considered:
  • The age of the child or youth.
  • The distance of a commute and the impact it may have on the student’s education.
  • Personal safety issues.
  • A student’s need for special instruction (e.g., special education and related services).
  • The length of anticipated stay in a temporary shelter or other temporary location.
  • The time remaining in the school year.
  • It is important to also consider the wishes of the parent/guardian and the student.
Parents and youth will be informed of their school of origin rights and the available transportation services or other transportation options. The transportation plan will be arranged in coordination between the family, Norwin School District Homeless Liaison, Director of Transportation, transportation provider, community services, and other school districts as needed in each situation of homelessness.
The Norwin School District recognizes that the impact of family mobility upon education is disruption and is the greatest barrier to school success. They need programs and services that will nurture and reinforce their resiliency. The following strategies and programs can support students’ academic success and will be in place through the end of the school year in which they find permanent housing:
  • Automatic eligibility for free meals.
  • Automatic eligibility for Title I services and related parent engagement programs.
  • Access to Head Start and preschool programs administered by the local education agency or within the community.
  • Academic support such as tutoring, afterschool programs and summer programs.
  • Referrals to health care services, dental services, mental health services, and other appropriate services.
  • Counseling from school personnel to prepare and improve their readiness for college.
  • Continued support through time and resources donated by community partners, such as the Norwin Public Library, the Walmart Foundation, Creative Adventures, and local churches.
Here is a link to the Supports and Services Student Request Form; please complete this form and someone from your school building will be in touch.
The Norwin School District Liaison for homeless children and youths shall, as a part of the duties, coordinate and collaborate with State Coordinators and community and school personnel responsible for the provision of education and related services to homeless children and youths.
In addition to the the LEA dispute resolution section located in District Policy 251, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has developed procedures for the right to appeal educational placement decisions as well as the resolution of disputes regarding enrollment, school selection, homeless status and complaints of non-compliance with legal requirements pertaining to the education for homeless children and youths (for further information, visit to see the Education for Homeless Youth Basic Education Circular, 42 U.S. §11432(g)(2)(A)), under Basic Education Circulars on the home page). The child or youth remains in the school in which he or she is seeking enrollment until the complaint or appeal is resolved or until a disposition from a McKinney-Vento coordinator is received.
Students and families with children who are in a homeless situation or know of someone who is experiencing homelessness may call the Norwin School District Homeless Liaison, Dr. Heather Newell, at 724-861-3000 x1160 or email her at [email protected].