Thursday, July 29, 2010

What is the McKinney-Vento Act?

Just last week, an article appeared in The Times Record entitled "Teens on their own". The article tells the story of Trina, a young girl living in a homeless shelter. Trina became homelessness before the age of 18.

Trina is one of many young adults that lives without a permanent address and couch surfs with friends. Some homeless youth, even with a temporary place to stay, may not have access to basic resources such such as food, showers, or a good night's sleep. Even if they have basic resources, they may not have access medical or health services. It can be hard to stay in school when you're tired or sick and unable to access resources others take for granted.

So how did Trina stay in school and finish her high school degree? Luckily for Trina, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act exists for homeless youth.

What is the McKinney-Vento Act? Well, I could give you the whole low down but that here's item 1 of the McKinney-Vento Statement of Policy:

"(1) Each State educational agency shall ensure that each child of a homeless individual and each homeless youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths." (

This act allows great people such as the shelter worker and school counselors in Trina's life to support homeless youth and provide them with the resources they need. How do schools help students that are homeless (whether with family or on their own)? Each school and district has a McKinney-Vento Representative. That representative ensures that all students identified as homeless receive basic resources such as food and clothes. They support them and ensure students can stay in school.

Local services as shown in The Times Record article often provide assistance to McKinney-Vento Representatives, such as providing them with resources needed for the youth.

StandUp For Kids - Bremerton ( in Washington is a great example of a program supporting youth protected under McKinney-Vento. They provide various services to over 400 kids a week within the Bremerton school system. As part of their backpack outreach program, they distribute backpacks full of supplies on a weekly basis to the representatives that are then distributed to the youth.

The StandUp For Kids - Worcester program is currently launching our own backpack outreach program. We need the help of our community to get this program started. We need groups and schools to volunteer to host food and supply drives for our backpack outreach program.

Contact us at for more info on how you can help.

In the St. Louis area? They're launching a backpack outreach program too. In the Bremerton area? I'm sure they'd love a helping hand, too!

Or think about starting a StandUp For Kids backpack outreach program in your community...

Read up on the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act at

You can also get local information about Massachusetts McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance at

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