Commonwealth of Virginia
Department of Education
P. O. Box 2120
Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120

August 25, 2000


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: School Enrollment of Homeless Children and Youth

This memorandum provides information about state and federal legislation related to the education of homeless children and youth and contact information for technical assistance. During the 1999-2000 school year in Virginia, the Commonwealth's Homeless Education Program, Project HOPE, estimated the number of preschool and school-age students who were homeless to exceed 17,000. These students were in rural, suburban, and urban settings. Enrollment requirements can be barriers for this population of students, and the requirements of the following legislation address many of these barriers.

Federal Legislation

Subtitle VII-B of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, Public Law 100-77, reauthorized November 29, 1990, (Public Law 101-645) and September 28, 1994, (Public Law 103-382) is intended to facilitate the enrollment, attendance, and success of homeless children and youth in school.

Definition of Homelessness

According to the United States Department of Education's Preliminary Guidance for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (1995), homeless refers to an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and who has a primary nighttime residence that is:

    1)  A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);

    2)  An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or

    3)  A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
The following categories of children and youth should be considered homeless under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act:

LEA Responsibilities

As a recipient of McKinney funds, Virginia must ensure that every homeless child and youth in the state has equal access to services offered to other students in school and determined to be in the child's or youth's best interest. Each LEA has the responsibility to: