Changes for Student Homeless Populations Under ESSA

According to the National Center for Homeless Education federal data summary, the number of homeless students doubled in less than a decade: public schools identified a record 1,301,239 homeless children and youth in the 2013-2014 school year up from 679,724 in 2006-2007.

New provisions under ESSA seek to increase the capacity of coordinators and liaisons to connect homeless youth to needed services and supports, ensure these students receive a quality education, and hold schools more accountable for homeless student outcomes. While states have until 2017–18 to fully implement most major components of ESSA, key provisions related to homeless students were to be implemented by the start of this (2016–17) school year. Amendments to McKinney-Vento went into effect on October 1; provisions for Foster Care take effect on December 10, 2016:
  • For Coordinators & Liaisons: States must designate state coordinators to monitor local education agencies, inform parents and the public of homeless students' rights, and provide high-quality training for local liaisons charged with building local capacity to implement the McKinney-Vento provisions of ESSA.
  • Stability: LEAs must consider student-centered factors in making the best determination of schools for homeless students to attend, with a presumption that students will remain in their original schools and their wishes will be given priority.
  • Enrollment and Full Participation: SEAs and LEAs must develop, review, and revise policies to remove barriers and create opportunities for homeless students to be identified, enrolled, and engaged in school, including in public pre-K programs.
  • Opportunity to Engage in a Rigorous Education: Homeless students must have full access to academic and extracurricular activities, credit for full or partial completion of coursework, and counseling to help support a transition to post-secondary education and career opportunities.
  • Accountability: States must disaggregate data on state report cards by homeless student category starting in the fall of 2017-2018.