McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

The definition of homelessness, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, includes children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Children and youth who are experiencing one of the conditions below, may be considered as homeless:

  • Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;
  • Living in emergency or transitional shelters;
  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations;
  • Living in cars, parks, public spaces, bus or train stations, or abandoned buildings;
  • Having a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designated for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodations; and
  • Migratory children or youth living in circumstances described above.

The PWCS McKinney-Vento Office begins accepting and reviewing eligibility forms
for the upcoming school year on July 15 each summer. Families may use either the online eligibility form or the PDF link below.

McKinney-Vento Eligibility Online Form

McKinney-Vento Eligibility Form (PDF)

Students in Shelter and Transitional Housing

Students currently in shelter and transitional housing programs automatically qualify for McKinney-Vento. A school staff member or parent may complete the abbreviated PWCS McKinney-Vento Student in Shelter & Transitional Housing Form to assist in the identification process.

What Families Experiencing Homelessness Need to Know

  • Children and youth experiencing homelessness have a right to attend school;
  • You do not need a permanent address to enroll your child in school;
  • Children and youth experiencing homelessness can stay in their school of origin or enroll in a public school that students living in the same attendance zone are eligible to attend whichever circumstance proves to be in their best interest;
  • Schools must provide you with a written explanation if a dispute occurs; Contact your local Homeless Liaison for assistance in handling a dispute;
  • Your child may have the right to transportation services to and from the school of origin if in your child's best interest;
  • Your child has the right to participate in extracurricular activities and all federal, state, or local programs for which he/she is eligible; and
  • Unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness have these same rights. (Contact your local Social Worker and local Homeless Liaison)

Legal Reference: The McKinney-Vento Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.) at Subtitle B of title VII, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act. (Reauthorized 2015)

Free Meals

Homeless students are entitled to free meals and do not need to fill out the Free and Reduced Meal Application.

Transportation Procedures

Student Resides Within the Base School Zone

  • If you reside in your base school zone, please contact the school for in-boundary transportation services.
Student Resides Out-of-Boundary
  • Prince William County Public Schools will provide out-of-boundary transportation assistance for a homeless student to remain at his/her school of origin; however, the student must first be approved for the PWCS McKinney-Vento program. If the student has not yet been approved, please complete the McKinney-Vento Online Eligibility Form before requesting out-of-boundary transportation assistance.
  • If the student does not reside within the base school boundary and has received approval for the PWCS McKinney-Vento program, or in the event of an out-of boundary transportation change or cancellation, please complete the following:

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Transportation Request Form

This transportation request is reviewed in the Homeless Liaison office. Approved transportation requests are forwarded to the Transportation Office to be coordinated with routing technicians. This process may take up to four school days to arrange transportation for each student. When transportation arrangements are finalized, the applicant may receive transportation information through one of the following:

  • Phone call from a private transportation service (effective date, driver, car information, and times of transportation);
  • Email from the Prince William County Public Schools Transportation Department (effective date, bus location, and times of transportation); or
  • ParentVUE - Online tool that provides access to your student's bus and class schedules, grades, attendance information and more.

Who Are "Unaccompanied Homeless Youth"

They are youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian including:

  • Young people who have run away from home; and
  • Young people who have been forced to leave their homes.

Their possible living situations include:

  • Living with friends (couch surfing);
  • Living in shelters; and
  • Living in cars, at campgrounds, in abandoned buildings or on the streets.

School may be the only safe, stable environment for unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. Schools can provide the needed support to ensure continued academic success for these vulnerable students. In addition to academics, schools can offer adult and peer support, meals, referral to medical and mental health services, sports clubs and other activities. Schools should also connect these young people to other resources and supports available in the community.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires immediate enrollment of these students and protection of their right to attend school without parental involvement. Schools must immediately enroll "unaccompanied homeless youth" even if they do not have the documents that are usually required, such as proof of residence, school records, medical records, or guardianship papers. Transportation assistance must be provided if the student needs transportation to the school of origin and it is in the student's best interest to remain at that school.

Although there is no mandatory requirement to report an "unaccompanied youth" to law enforcement or Child Protective Services, a situation should be reported to CPS or the police if there is suspicion that the student is in unsafe circumstances. For further assistance, contact the school division homeless liaison, Tami Eppolite at

Regulation 718-1 Students Experiencing Homelessness

Regulation 718-1 Estudiantes que no tienen hogar (PDF)

Reg 718-1 Anexo II: Notificación por Escrito de la Decisión de Matrícula

PWCS McKinney-Vento Office | | 703-791-7436

Project Hope Virginia Web Link

For more resources and information on Virginia's Program for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth visit:

Project Hope - Virginia