Know Your Rights: Youth Homelessness
What educational rights do I have if I am experiencing homelessness?
If you are experiencing homelessness, you have many educational rights, including:
- You have a right to attend your “school of best interest,” which could be: a) the school you attended before becoming homeless, also known as your “school of origin,” or b) the school nearest to where you are living, also known as your “local school.”
- You have a right to receive free transportation to attend your “school of origin” and any school related activities. You might also have a right to transportation to attend your “local school.”
- You have a right to enroll immediately in school even if you do not have the documents or records that are normally required for school enrollment and even if you have missed application or enrollment deadlines while experiencing homelessness.
- If the school claims that you are not homeless or says you cannot attend the school you chose, you have a right to attend your selected school until you have completed any available appeals and you get a final decision.
- You have a right to receive “comparable services” to those received by other students who have not experienced homelessness, including comparable transportation, education, and school nutrition services.
- You have a right to privacy related to your experience with homelessness.
If you're not sure if you qualify as homeless, get more information at myschoolmyrights.com/homeless-youth.
What Educational Rights Do I Have If I Am An Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness?
If you are an unaccompanied youth, you have all of the same rights as any student experiencing homelessness, but you have some additional rights, too.
- You have a right to immediately enroll in school without proof of guardianship. Many school districts have developed forms for unaccompanied youth to enroll themselves or for a caregiver that is not a guardian to help enroll the youth.
- You should also receive additional support from your district’s homeless liaison. Your liaison should help you to select a school, receive free transportation to school, resolve any disputes with the school, receive notice of your rights, and apply for financial aid for college as an "independent student" without your parent or guardian’s consent or financial information.
Not sure if you qualify as an unaccompanied youth? More information at myschoolmyrights.com/homeless-youth
What Is A Homeless Liaison and How Can They Help Me?
Every school district has a homeless liaison to serve as the district’s main point of contact for students experiencing homelessness
The liaison has duties to identify students experiencing homelessness, inform them of their rights, refer them to additional services, and ensure they have a full and equal opportunity to succeed in school. The liaison also has special duties to support unaccompanied youths experiencing homelessness.
Find your district’s homeless liaison at myschoolmyrights.com/homeless-youth.