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Homeless Education

The Lassen County Office of Education’s Homeless Education program provides support to all Lassen County school districts around identifying and supporting students and their families experiencing homelessness.  
All Lassen County students have the right to enroll in and attend school, even when housing becomes uncertain. Schools should provide homeless students with:
  • Enrollment within 24 hours
  • Free and reduced-price meals
  • Removal of barriers to education
  • School supplies, transportation assistance, and support service referrals
If a child does not have “fixed, regular, and adequate housing,” federal and state laws require immediate school enrollment for that child – even without proof of residency or medical, school, or legal guardianship records.

Definition of "homelessness"

According to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a student is homeless if she/he lives:
  • In a shelter such as a family, domestic violence, or youth shelter or transitional living program
  • In a motel, hotel, or weekly-rate housing
  • In shared housing with more than one family due to economic hardship or loss
  • In an abandoned building, car, campground, or on the street
  • In temporary foster care or temporarily with an adult who is not his/her parent or guardian
  • In substandard housing (without electricity, water, or heat)
  • With friends or family because they are a runaway or unaccompanied youth
AB 1806, Pupil Services for Homeless Children or Youth
This Assembly Bill was signed into law on September 29, 2014. It extends some of the protections that were issued to foster youth to homeless youth and provides new mandates regarding partial credit, exemption from graduation requirements, and expulsion recommendations for homeless youth. This AB 1806 Summary (pdf) from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) provides additional information.

Services we provide: 

For school districts, charter schools, county and community partners: 

  • Trainings/Professional Development on McKinney-Vento identification, implementation, related education code, and rights for students and their families
  • Assistance with identifying School Of Origin and enrollment processes
  • Technical assistance and consultation around McKinney-Vento implementation and individual student cases
  • Development and distribution of tools to assist with identification and education (e.g. McKinney-Vento posters)
  • Host countywide meetings for McKinney-Vento school district  liaisons and community partners
  • Guidance on how to connect to local cultural supports
  • Trauma-informed school and community engagement
  • Linkages and support for Evacuee and Refugee students
  • Representation at local homeless councils
  • Joining with school staff to meet families in the community
  • Student attendance support

For students and caregivers: 

  • Supporting linkages for assistance with housing navigation, including identifying affordable housing options, exploring housing assistance programs, and completing applications
  • Assistance with accessing basic needs, including food, clothing, bedding, healthcare and insurance, and transportation
  • Provision of limited school and hygiene supplies 
  • Participate in and advocacy at school and county-based meetings (e.g. SSTs, IEPs, CFTs, Wrap, CWIT)
  • Supporting linkages to mental health and/or substance use treatment for student and parent(s)

District Liaisons

School districts are responsible for ensuring that youth who are experiencing homelessness have full access to educational programs in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Each district appoints a Homeless Liaison to assist families and students who have questions or need support. 
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act mandates that all local school districts have a homeless education liaison who ensures that:
  • Homeless children and youth are identified
  • Homeless students are immediately enrolled and attend school regardless of paperwork barriers (such as lack of address or proof of immunizations)
  • Homeless families, children, and youth receive all educational services for which they are eligible and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in school
  • Parents or guardians are informed of the educational opportunities available to their children
  • Homeless students have the right to remain in their school of origin (school attended when permanently housed or last enrolled) for the duration of their homelessness or until the end of the academic year in which they move into permanent housing
  • Unaccompanied youth are assisted in placement/enrollment decisions
  • Enrollment disputes are mediated
Schools should protect the dignity of families experiencing homlessness by following the procedures established by their district under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, including confidentiality.
Note that these procedures should be implemented if a child is living in a shelter, motel, vehicle, or trailer; on the street; in an abandoned building, campground, or any other inadequate accommodation, including “couch surfing” (having no permanent address); or living doubled or tripled up with friends or relatives due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or extremely limited income in an area with a severe shortage of affordable housing.

If you are district homeless liaison, check out this resource! 

Conflict Resolution

If a parent or student has a concern or complaint that has not been able to be resolved at the school district level, please contact the County-Wide Homeless Liaison for Lassen County Office of Education, Brie Buckler at or (530) 251-1613.

How can schools and community agencies work together to support homeless students?

Students and families who are experiencing homelessness or are at high risk of being unhoused live with many daily challenges and stressors. These unstable housing and financial circumstances can impact school attendance, academic performance and engagement, behavior, and connection to school. It’s reasonable to imagine that students who do not have a safe or consistent place to sleep at night would struggle to focus in school, complete assignments, or maintain positive peer and adult interactions. In order to mitigate educational disparities and avoid additional trauma, students in these living situations have a variety of educational rights. These policies and procedures attempt to provide all children with a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, even when they are experiencing housing instability, domestic violence, and/or financial distress.

These rights include:

  • The right to stay enrolled in the same school after they move into a homeless situation or move between homeless situations (e.g. move from shelter to doubled-up with another family). Students can have many schools of origin. The“school(s) of origin” can be:
    • ​​​​​The school they attended before they were homeless
    • The school they most recently attended, or 
    • Any school they attended in the last 15 months that they feel connected to and is in their best interest to attend
  • ​The right to immediate enrollment, even if they don’t have all the required documentation at the time of enrollment, including immunization records
  • The right to be assessed for a graduation exemption if they transfer school after their 2nd year of high school
  • The right to equal access to school, extended learning, and extracurricular activities and resources (e.g. tutoring, school dances, field trips, sports)
  • In some situations, the right to school of origin transportation
It is critical for school district staff to be aware of and reinforce these procedures; similarly, it is important for community partner staff working with families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to understand these rights in order to educate their clients, prevent unnecessary school transfers, and advocate for equity.

When school district staff suspect a student may be homeless, they should: 

  • ​Ask students/families about their living situation in a sensitive way
  • Refer the student/family to the district homeless liaison, or site designee
  • Code the student(s) as “homeless” in the district SIS (Student Information System)
  • Use the term “families in transition” or "in between homes" when communicating with families or students
  • Assist the family in calling 211
  • Help the family get connected to other community or social services
  • Provide families with tangible supports, like clothing, school supplies, and connect to on-campus or in-district supports (e.g. free lunch, tutoring, transportation)
  • Be (or identify) a warm point of contact for youth on campus—it’s okay to reach out to them and offer your support!
  • Refer to LCOE if families are chronically homeless, having trouble with housing services, or not engaging with housing services
  • Avoid requiring inter/intradistrict transfers, proof of homelessness, residency affidavits or other documentation in order for student to remain enrolled in their school of origin OR enroll anew in their district of current residence
  • Avoid contacting landlords, housing agencies, or law enforcement to “prove” a family’s homelessness

When community partners are supporting a homeless family with children, they should: 

  • Share information about the student(s) educational rights
  • Help families to understand school of origin rights and the importance of maintaining school stability for their children
  • Assist the family in navigating school transportation
  • Learn about the school schedule, start and end times, homework expectations, technology resources, etc. to assist in keeping students’ engaged in school  
  • Provide or assist the family in obtaining internet access
  • Proactively notify the school/district about the family’s living situation
  • Contact LCOE or the district homeless education liaison for additional advocacy and support.