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Federal Law

The Stewart B. McKinney Assistance Act of 1994 is the primary federal legislation that directly addresses the education of homeless children and youth. The McKinney Act is important in educating homeless children for the following reasons:

  • It defines homelessness;
  • It requires that all homeless youth have access to a free and appropriate education;
  • It requires every state to review and revise all laws, regulation, practices or policies that may act as a barrier to the enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children;
  • It stipulates that homelessness alone should not be sufficient reason to separate students from the mainstream school environment;
  • It requires that homeless children and youth have access to the education and services they need to ensure them an opportunity to meet the same challenging state standard to which all students are held;
  • It requires state education agencies to appoint a Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth;
  • It requires each state to adopt a plan to provide for the education of each homeless child or homeless youth within the state; and
  • It allocates money for the states to distribute in competitive, descretionary grants for programs that are created to meet the needs of homeless children.