Students Experiencing Homelessness

Caroline County Public Schools is committed to supporting students experiencing homelessness.  All children and youth have the right to free,  appropriate public education including children and youth with:

  • Uncertain housing
  • A temporary address
  • No permanent physical address

The federal McKinney-Vento Act guarantees school enrollment for anyone who, due to a lack of housing, does not have a fixed, regular, and adequate night time residence. Such children and youth may live:

  • In an emergency shelter or transitional housing,
  • In a motel, hotel, or campground due to the lack of an adequate alternative,
  • In a car, park, public place, bus or train station, or abandoned building,
  • Doubled up with relatives or friends due to loss of housing or economic hardship,
  • In these conditions and be a migratory child or youth, or
  • In these conditions and be a youth not accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Children and youth living in these settings may meet the McKinneyVento definition of homelessness and have additional educational rights.

What Families Experiencing Homelessness Need To Know
  • Children and youth experiencing homelessness have a right to attend school.
  • You do not need a permanent address to enroll your child in school.
  • Children and youth experiencing homelessness can stay in their school of origin or enroll in any public school that students living in the same attendance zone are eligible to attend, whichever circumstance proves to be in the student’s best interest.
  • The Liaison must provide you with a written explanation if a placement or eligibility dispute occurs. Contact your local Homeless Liaison for assistance in handling a dispute.
  • Your child cannot be denied school enrollment because school records or other enrollment documentation are not immediately available.
  • Your child may have the right to transportation services to and from the school of origin if determined in their best interest* (see transportation procedures).
  • Your child has the right to participate in extracurricular activities and all federal, state, or local programs for which he/she is eligible.
  • Unaccompanied youth have these same rights. (Contact your local Homeless Liaison.)
  • McKinney-Vento status provides stability at the school for at least the duration of the school year. If housing instability continues beyond that school year, you must apply for re-qualification the following school year.
Who are “Unaccompanied Youth”?

Unaccompanied youth are youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or court-appointed guardian, including:

  • Young people who have run away from home
  • Young people who have been forced to leave their homes
  • Young people whose parents have left the area and left the student here.

Their possible living situations include:

  • Living with friends (couch surfing)
  • Living in shelters
  • Living in cars, campgrounds, in abandoned buildings, or other public spaces or on the streets
  • Living with an adult who is not their parent and does not have legal custody of them.

School may be the only safe, stable environment for unaccompanied youth. Schools can provide the needed support to ensure continued academic success for these vulnerable students. In addition to academics, schools can offer adult and peer support, meals, referral to medical and mental health services, sports clubs, and other activities. Schools should also connect these young people to other resources and supports available in the community.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires immediate enrollment of these students and protects their right to attend school without parental involvement. Schools must immediately enroll “unaccompanied youth” even if they do not have the documents that are usually required, such as proof of residence, school records, medical records, or guardianship papers. Transportation assistance must be provided (when in the best interest of the student) if the student needs transportation to the school of origin.

Free and Reduced Lunch Procedures

Homeless students are entitled to free standard breakfast and lunch meals at school and DO NOT need to fill out the Free and Reduced Meals application. Once the parent (or unaccompanied youth) fills out the CCPS Students Experiencing Homelessness Data Information form, the school submits it to the Homeless Education Liaison for review and approval. Approved requests will be submitted by the Liaison directly to School Nutrition Services. Please do not contact School Nutrition Services; this request must be submitted through the McKinney-Vento program.

Transportation Procedures

Caroline County Public Schools will provide transportation assistance to and from the school of origin, if determined to be in the best interest of the child or youth* experiencing homelessness. Transportation will be coordinated by the McKinney-Vento Education Homeless Liaison, supervisor of transportation, the receiving division and funded by the division. Once transportation arrangements is arranged, the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth is called and advised of the start date, time of transportation, the pick-up/drop-off address and the assigned bus number.  Transportation to specific support services that would not be covered by the school’s commitment will be coordinated through the Caroline Department of Social Services and the school division as appropriate.

*“Determined to be in the best interest of the child or youth” is determined by the geographic distance from the school, the age of the student, and the amount of time the student would spend being transported on the bus or car each day from the out-of-zone address.

How can delays be avoided when enrolling a student experiencing homelessness in school?

  • Enroll the student immediately.
  • Contact the previous school and ask that the records be sent electronically or shared over the phone.
  • Contact the principal, school counselor, or local homeless education liaison with any concerns.
  • Contact the local homeless education liaison to support unaccompanied youth when enrolling in school.
Community Resources

Caroline Department of Health
17202 Richmond Tpk.
Bowling Green, VA  22427
(804) 633-5465

Caroline Department of Social Services
17202 Richmond Tpk.
Bowling Green, VA  22427
(804) 633-5071

Caroline Children’s Dental Program
17202 Richmond Tpk.
Bowling Green, VA  22427
(804) 632-8006

Rappahannock Area Community Service Board (RACSB)
600 Jackson St
Fredericksburg, VA  22401
(540) 373-3223


Thurman Brisben Center
471 Central Rd
Fredericksburg, VA  22401
(540) 899-9853

Quin Rivers Agency
10718 Ballantraye Drive, Suite 402
Fredericksburg, VA 22407
(540) 368-2700

Additional Resource

Project HOPE Virginia logo
Project HOPE – Virginia
Education for Homeless Children and Youth
Virginia Department of Education
Coordinated by the College of William and Mary
Project HOPE Virginia Homepage

Contact Information

Mrs. Rachel Wheeler, CCPS McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Liaison
(804) 633-5088