national center for homeless education | nche

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

photo of a female student in an orange shirt writing in a notebook

NCHE Resources

Educational Rights Poster: Youth (Available in English and Spanish)
This poster explains who qualifies as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and lists the educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness. Place these posters in your school or community to generate public awareness.
Download or order the educational rights poster.

Meeting the Educational Needs of Students Displaced by Disasters: Youth on Their Own
This brief explains how the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act applies to unaccompanied youth displaced by disaster and how the Act can assist these students in accessing education and other needed support services.
Download Meeting the Educational Needs of Students Displaced by Disasters: Youth on Their Own.

Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Homeless Students
This brief identifies the key provisions of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act dealing with unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness and offers strategies for implementation.
Download Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Homeless Students.

Surviving on Your Own: Information for Youth on How School Can Help
This pocket-sized booklet for unaccompanied youth explains how schools can help youth who are living on their own without a parent or guardian. It is made of a durable, laminated paper to resist wear and tear and fits easily inside a back pocket.
Order the booklet.

Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth Review of Literature (1995-2005)
This review is based on literature published between 1995 and 2005 on issues concerning unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. It provides an overview of the challenges these young people face and includes research about why they leave their homes, how they live after leaving, and what interventions are being used to assist them.
Download Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth Review of Literature (1995-2005).

When Legal Guardians Are Not Present: Enrolling Students on Their Own
This brief identifies the key provisions of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act dealing with how to handle the enrollment process when legal guardians are not present and offers strategies for implementation.
Download When Legal Guardians Are Not Present: Enrolling Students on Their Own.

Other Resources

Alone Without a Home: A State-by-State Review of Laws Affecting Unaccompanied Youth
This report from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty provides summaries, legal citations, and analyses of laws affecting unaccompanied youth in the United States and six territories (American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). More specifically, this publication covers many of the issues facing unaccompanied youth: youth in need of services; emancipation; status offenses, including running away, truancy, and curfews; the right to contract; definitions and consequences of harboring runaway youth; and service and shelter responsibilities and resources.
Download the report.

Family and Youth Services Bureau
The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), part of the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, supports local communities in providing services and opportunities to young people, particularly runaway and homeless youth.
Download a joint collaborative memorandum between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education in support of the education of homeless youth.
Visit the website.

Homelessness Resource Center: Youth
The Homelessness Resource Center, hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is an interactive online community of service providers; policymakers; researchers; and public agencies at federal, state, and local levels. The Center shares state-of-the art knowledge, evidence-based practices and practical resources to prevent and end homelessness through providing publications and materials, and online learning and networking opportunities.
Visit the webpage.

Homeless Youth Research Bibliography
This bibliography from the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) provides a comprehensive review of research literature on all issues related to youth homelessness. The survey, studies, and research included span over four decades and include a breadth of perspective and in-depth analysis. The research is organized by typological or categorical areas to help in the ease of review.
(NAEH Disclaimer: In publishing this bibliography, NAEH makes no judgment on the methodologies or quality of the research conducted, nor does it necessarily agree with all of the research findings presented in this review of research literature.)
Download Homeless Youth Research Bibliography.

Immigration and Schools: Supporting Success for Undocumented Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
Attending school and securing lawful status in the United States are two keys to safety and security for undocumented unaccompanied homeless youth. This brief, co-authored by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), is designed for young people, immigration attorneys and advocates, McKinney-Vento liaisons, and other educators. It provides information about federal laws that provide the means for undocumented unaccompanied youth who are homeless to attend school and address their immigration status.
Download the brief.

Juvenile Runaways
The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released this guide as part of their Problem-Specific Guides Series. The guide describes the problem of juvenile runaways, highlights contributing factors, and provides suggestions on how a community can understand and respond to their local problem.
Download the guide.

NAEH Policy Focus Area Resources: Youth
This webpage from the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) provides valuable information and resources on helping homeless youth transition successfully to adulthood. Resources include fact sheets, reports, presentations, best practices, and more.
Visit the webpage.
Download Housing for Homeless Youth.

National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth
The National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth (NCFY) is a free information service for communities, organizations, and individuals interested in developing new and effective strategies for supporting young people and their families. NCFY was established by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) to link those interested in youth issues with the resources they need to serve young people, families, and communities better.
Visit the website.

National Runaway Safeline
The National Runaway Safeline (NRS) gives help and hope to youth and their families by providing non-judgmental, confidential crisis intervention and local and national referrals through a 24-hour hotline (1-800-621-4000). Visit the NRS website for useful information for teens, parents, teachers, concerned adults, social service agencies, and law enforcement officials.
Visit the website.
Learn about National Runaway Prevention Month (November)
View NRS' Statistics on Runaways from Peer-reviewed Journals and Federal Studies
Download NRS' Reporter's Source Book on Runaway and Homeless Youth
Download NRS' Why They Run: An In-depth Look at America's Runaway Youth.

Safe Place
Safe Place provides access to immediate help and supportive resources for all young people in crisis through a network of sites sustained by qualified agencies, trained volunteers, and businesses.
Visit the website.

Start a Youth Program
This web-based guide from the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth walks readers through the four states of launching a youth-serving nonprofit organization. The four stages include:
Stage I - Define Your Niche
Stage II - Conceive Your Vision and Mission
Stage III - Bring Your Nonprofit Into Being
Stage IV - Plan Your Programs
Visit the Start a Youth Program webpage.

Sustaining Your Youth Program: Weatherproofing Against Financial Storms
This three-part publication series from the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth discusses strategies for ensuring the financial viability and continued running of your youth program.
Part I - Secrets of the Fundraising World
Part II - Putting the "Fun" in Fundraising
Part III - Getting Support Where It Matters Most: Building a Donor Base in Your Community
Visit the webpage.

The Exchange: Serving Youth in an Economic Downturn (June 2009)
This edition of The Exchange, the newsletter of the Family and Youth Services Bureau, focuses on serving youth experiencing homelessness, and includes a number of informative articles, including:
Youth Homelessness in Today's Tough Economy;
In His Words: A Youth Speaks Out about His Homeless Experience;
Three Rules for Working With Unaccompanied Youth;
Coming in From the Shadows: Overrepresented Groups Among Homeless Youth;
Serving Overrepresented Groups of Homeless Youth;
Down for the Count: Getting the Numbers on Youth Homelessness;
How Many Homeless Youth Are There in My Community?; and
Resources for Identifying and Working With the Spectrum of Homeless Youth
Visit the webpage.

Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research
On March 12, 2007, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsored the second National Symposium on Homelessness Research. This publication is a compendium of the 12 papers prepared for and presented at the Symposium. Among the papers' topics are homeless families and children, homeless youth, and rural homelessness.
Visit the Toward Understanding Homelessness webpage.

Using What We Know: Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
This 2008 report from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) provides policy and practice recommendations distilled from over 100 interviews with NAEHCY members across the country. Recommendations focus on seven key findings that, implemented as a continuum of support, will assist in increasing enrollment, attendance, and success in school for homeless unaccompanied youth, and in reengaging young people who have left school.
Download the report.

Voices from the Street: A Survey of Homeless Youth by Their Peers
In 2007, the California Research Bureau conducted a survey in which homeless and formerly homeless youth completed 208 interviews with their currently and formerly homeless peers across the state in order to find out about their experiences, the services they need, and the changes they would like to see happen in policy or law. This report presents the survey responses and findings.
Download the report.

What Child Welfare Advocates Can Do for Unaccompanied Youth
This fact sheet from the Legal Center on Foster Care and Education explains basic information about unaccompanied youth and provides suggestions for how child welfare advocates can support unaccompanied youth, even without taking them into custody.
Download the fact sheet.

Sample Forms, Materials, and Policies

Alaska State Statute: Sec. 25.20.025. Examination and treatment of minors
This Alaska state law provides that a minor living apart from his/her parents or legal guardian and managing his/her own financial affairs may consent for his/her own medical and dental services.
Read the full text of Sec. 25.20.025.
Visit the webpage.

California: AB 1393
This California laws requires state universities and community colleges to give priority for student housing to current and former foster youth, including for housing facilities that are open for year-round occupation.
View the law.

California Government Code 11139.3, as amended by SB198
This amendment to California state law extends access to shelter and housing programs to unemancipated youth under age 18 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless or who have run away from home.
Download the full text of SB198.

Massachusetts Homeless Education Advisory 2004 - 8: Unaccompanied Youth
This advisory of the Massachusetts Department of Education provides guidance to school districts and social service providers in Massachusetts regarding the identification, enrollment, attendance, and success in school of unaccompanied youth as required by the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act
View the advisory.

Missouri Caregiver Authorization Form
This form from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education enables a caregiver over the age of 18 to authorize the enrollment and school-related medical care of a minor unaccompanied homeless youth.
Download the Missouri Caregiver Authorization Form.

New York State Law: 3209(1)(b)(2)
This New York State law establishes that an unaccompanied student may enroll himself or herself "if no parent or person in parental relation is available".
Download the law.
(See bottom of page 2)

Packet for Parents Facing Incarceration
This sample packet from Adrian Public Schools in Adrian, MI, provides information to assist parents facing incarceration with making appropriate arrangements for their children. Included in the packet area checklist of tasks for parents facing incarceration, a list of frequently asked questions, a blank power of attorney form, a sample completed power of attorney form, and a flyer about the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program.
Download the packet.

South Carolina Department of Education: Caregiver Affidavit
This form from the South Carolina Department of Education enables a caregiver to accept responsibility for educational decisions for a student, including, but not limited to, receiving notices of discipline; attending conferences with school staff; and granting permission for athletic activities, field trips, and other activities. Other states may use this form as a guide for developing their own caregiver affidavit.
Download the affidavit.

⇑ back to top
what's new on the nche website
download nche issue briefs
order nche products
register for an nche webinar
contact the nche helpline
The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) is the U.S. Department of Education's technical assistance center for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. NCHE is housed at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

This website was produced with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, on contract no. ED-01-CO-0092/0001. The content of this website does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education or the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

To view .pdf files, you must have the Adobe Reader program, available for free downloading at

*Clicking on an external link will take you to a non-NCHE webpage or file. The external agency's privacy policy may differ from that of NCHE.
skip navigation for screen readers NCHE homepage