Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

NCHE Resources

Educational Rights Poster: Youth
This NCHE 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.
Visit the NCHE Store to order.
Meeting the Educational Needs of Students Displaced by Disasters: Youth on Their Own
This NCHE 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 Students Experiencing Homelessness
This NCHE brief identifies the key provisions of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act related to the education of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness and suggests strategies for implementation.
Download Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Students Experiencing Homelessness.
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.
Visit the NCHE Store to order.
Unaccompanied Youth Eligibility Flowchart

This NCHE flowchart provides a simple process of determining the McKinney-Vento eligibility of students living apart from parents and guardians. Using common living arrangements, it guides users to make accurate determinations of a student’s eligibility as an unaccompanied homeless youth.
Download the Unaccompanied Youth Eligibility Flowchart.

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 Alone Without a Home: A National Review of State Laws Affecting Unaccompanied Youth (February 2019).
Family and Youth Services Bureau
The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), part of the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, supports local communities in providing housing and other supports runaway and homeless youth through its Street Outreach Program, Basic Center Program, and Independent Living Program.
Visit the Family and Youth Services Bureau 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 Homelessness Resource Center Youth webpage.
Measuring Up: Youth-level Outcomes and Measures for System Responses to Youth Homelessness

The Youth Outcomes Project (YOP)a collaboration between Chapin Hall, Youth Collaboratory, six federal agencies, and a number of leading researchers, practitioners, philanthropists, and youth with lived experience—provides guidance and promotes consensus on what and how to measure within the four broad core outcome areas identified in the USICH Framework to End Youth Homelessness. The project involved a background review of outcomes and measures used by evaluations and programs addressing youth homelessness, consultations with a range of youth and adult stakeholders across the country, and consolidation of inputs and appraisal of measures. For each core outcome area, the report provides a brief context on the importance of each core outcome area and recommendations of top core outcomes that the authors suggest be tracked commonly across communities in system-level efforts to end youth homelessness, along with corresponding best-available measures. It also presents suggested options and resources for communities and programs that want to “go further” in youth outcomes measurement for each domain.
Download Measuring Up: Youth-level Outcomes and Measures for System Responses to Youth Homelessness.

Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America
This brief series from the Voices of Youth Count Initiative at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago examines youth homelessness in America, including its incidence and prevalence, and risk factors that make youth more likely to experience homelessness. Significantly, Chapin Hall researchers found that the lack of a high school diploma or GED correlates more strongly than any other risk factor with experiences of youth homelessness, with young people without a diploma or GED being 3.5 times (346%) more likely to experience homelessness than their peers who completed high school. 
Visit the Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America webpage.
Visit the Missed Opportunities: LGBTQ Youth Homelessness in America webpage.
Visit the Missed Opportunities: Pregnant and Parenting Youth Experiences of Homelessness in the US webpage.
National Alliance to End Homelessness: Youth and Young Adults
This webpage from the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) provides valuable information and resources on helping youth experiencing homelessness transition successfully to adulthood.
Visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness Youth and Young Adults webpage.
National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families
The National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families is a free information service for communities, organizations, and individuals interested in developing new and effective strategies for supporting young people and their families. The Clearinghouse is funded through 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 National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families 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.
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 Safe Place 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.
Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research
On March 1-2, 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 childrenhomeless youth, and rural homelessness.
Visit the Toward Understanding Homelessness webpage.

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.
California Courts: Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit
This form from the California Courts may be used to authorize the enrollment of a minor in school and authorize school-related medical care. Other states may wish to use this form as a guide for developing their own caregiver affidavit.
Download the California Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit.
Delaware Relative Caregivers’ School Authorization Affidavit
This form from Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) may be used to authorize the enrollment of a minor in school by grandparents and other relatives who are raising another relative’s child without having legal custody or guardianship. Other states may wish to use this form as a guide for developing their own caregiver affidavit.
Download the Delaware Relative Caregivers’ School Authorization Affidavit.
Massachusetts Caregiver Authorization Affidavits
This affidavit from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education authorizes an adult with whom a minor resides to consent to certain types of medical treatment, obtain certain documents, and make educational decisions on behalf of the minor.
Visit the Massachusetts Caregiver Authorization Affidavits webpage.
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.
Missouri House Bill 1414: Modifies provisions relating to the protection of children

This MO state law:

  • Expands homeless youth’s access to Medicaid up to age 21
  • Empowers homeless youth under 18 to consent on their own for mental health care
  • Broadens homeless youth’s ability to consent for all types of health care, as well as housing, shelter, services, and employment, by establishing an objective way for youth to prove their unaccompanied homeless status through a letter from a school, service provider, or attorney, and by creating a limited liability shield for providers
  • Waives birth certificate fees for homeless children and youth
  • Allows unaccompanied homeless youth to access birth certificates without parental consent.

Read the full text of MO HB 1414.

New York State Law: § 3209(1)(b)(2)
This New York State law establishes that an homeless student may enroll himself/herself “if no parent or person in parental relation is available”.
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 for Parents Facing Incarceration packet.
Wyoming HB159: Unemancipated Homeless Minors
This Wyoming state law authorizes unemancipated homeless minors to obtain birth certificates and enter into binding contracts, as detailed in the law, and establishes that the fact a minor is homeless is not sufficient basis for reporting abuse or neglect.