Contact Us

Ema Lyman

Specialist, Mckinney-Vento
Specialist, Mckinney-Vento


Students Facing Housing Crisis

The intention of the federal McKinney-Vento law and the Boulder Valley School District is to remove all barriers to enrollment, attendance, and academic success that children and youth who do not have permanent housing might face.

What is the McKinney- Vento Act?

The McKinney-Vento law provides for rights and services to families and students who lack “a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”

  • A fixed residence is one that is stationary, permanent, and not subject to change.
  • A regular residence is one which is used on a regular (i.e., nightly) basis.
  • An adequate residence is one that is sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments.

International law defines adequate as follows:

“Adequate shelter means ... adequate privacy, adequate space, adequate security, adequate lighting and ventilation, adequate basic infrastructure and adequate location with regard to work and basic facilities - all at a reasonable cost.”

Some of the living situations that qualify under this definition are:

  • Sheltered (EFAA, Safehouse, youth shelter, emergency/temporary foster care, etc.)
  • Doubled Up due to Economic Hardship with Family or Friends
  • Unsheltered (Cars, Parks, Campgrounds, etc)
  • Hotels/Motels
  • and many other situations that may be fixed and regular but not adequate, like utilities are off, space is too small, no food.

Services and Rights under McKinney-Vento:

  • Immediate Enrollment – even if lacking address and documents
  • Free Lunch and Breakfast – without filling out an application
  • School Stability – when possible
  • Transportation – when appropriate
  • Referrals for any needed services
  • Waiver of all School Fees
  • Programs and services to insure academic success
  • Confidentiality

Please contact the Boulder Valley School District McKinney-Vento Specialist:
Ema Lyman 720-561-5925 or via email at

CDE's Definition of the McKinney-Vento Act

Section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, defines the following terms:

(a) Homeless children and youths means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term includes—

(1) 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; or are abandoned in hospitals.

(2) 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.

(3) Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

(4) Migratory children (as defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended), who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described in this definition.

(b) Enroll and enrollment include attending classes and participating fully in school activities.

(c) Unaccompanied youth includes a homeless child or youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.


What does the McKinney-Vento Act provide?

1. Schools must identify children and youth living in homeless situations and provide appropriate services.
  • immediate enrollment even when they lack paperwork normally required for enrollment
  • immediate placement in the Free and Reduced Lunch/Breakfast Program.

2. Students are allowed to remain in their “school of origin" when possible, which could be the school they attended before becoming homeless or the school they last attended and mandates that transportation be provided.

3. Fees for school programs are waived for this group, evaluations are expedited, and every attempt is made to put services in place for students to achieve academic success. Students are eligible for Title IA services.

4. Preschool aged children who qualify receive priority enrollment into preschool programs and are categorically eligible for Head Start.

Determination of eligibility under this act is done by the district’s Homeless Liaison. Referrals are made by schools and the community (shelters, housing programs, social service providers). All records are confidential and not part of the student’s permanent file.