Subtitle B of Title VII of the McKinney-Vento Assistance Act defines homeless children and youths as follows:

  • Individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (within the meaning of section 103(a)(1)); 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 adequate accommodations; 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 (within the meaning of section 103(a)(2)(C));
    • 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 (as such term is defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).

Unaccompanied Youth

The definition of McKinney-Vento eligibility under Illinois and federal law is broad enough to include “unaccompanied youth,” defined as a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. This can also include children and teens that are staying with friends or relatives because they cannot pay for a place to stay.

Whether a child or youth meets the definition of McKinney-Vento depends on the living situation and the individual circumstances. All students will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Whenever a child and his or her parent/guardian who initially share the housing of another person due to the loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar hardship continue to share housing, the local education association (in this case District 54) may, after the passage of 18 months and annually thereafter, conduct a review as to whether the hardship continues to exist in accordance with state law.

For more information, visit You may also contact Jennifer DiGioia, District 54’s McKinney-Vento liaison, at (847) 357-5043 or Tom Bookler, McKinney-Vento School Districts Liaison for the North Cook Intermediate Service Center, at (630) 386-0883.