Who is homeless?
The term “homeless children and youth means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and includes:
- Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accomodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement.
- Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
- Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described above.
The Laws and Provisions
The (federal) McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Illinois Education for Homeless Children Act ensures homeless children have a right to:
- A free, appropriate public education including a priority to preschool programs
- The choice of staying in the school of origin or attending any public school that non-homeless students who live in the attendance area in which the child is actually living are eligible to attend
- Immediate enrollment even when required documents such as school records, medical records, proof of residency, or other such documentation cannot be produced at the time of enrollment
- Assistance with transportation if needed