Question

Homeless children and youth report that school is a home to them – a place where they see the same faces, sit in the same seat, and can put their hearts and minds into pursuits that ease their daily troubles. In school, students gain the skills and support needed to avoid poverty and homelessness as adults.

K-12 Education: Special Education

Setting the Context

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), reauthorized in December 2004, is a federal law whose purpose is to improve the education of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, including those experiencing homelessness. The reauthorized IDEA includes provisions addressing the special education needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness and children and youth who are wards of the state.

NAEHCY Resources

The Most Frequently Asked Questions on the Education Rights of Children in Homeless Situations: Students Receiving Special Education and Related Services
This document provides answers to the most frequently asked questions on the education rights of homeless students who are receiving special education and related services. It is an excerpt from “The Most Frequently Asked Questions on the Education Rights of Children in Homeless Situations.September 2016.

Surrogate Parents and Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
New from NAEHCY and our partners at the National Association for State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) in 2016, this short publication provides the legal landscape for who can consent for special education evaluations and services for unaccompanied homeless youth, with implementation tips and resources.

Summary of IDEA Homeless and Foster Care/Ward of the State Provisions
This summary, prepared jointly by NAEHCY and the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law, explains key provisions of the reauthorized IDEA pertaining to children experiencing homelessness and wards of the state.

Federal Resources

Download a letter from the U.S. Department of Education that contains the Department's responses to questions about transporting McKinney-Vento students with IDEA funds and on buses purchased with IDEA funds, as well as inter-district financial responsibility. (August 2013)

Download the U.S. Department of Education's Questions and Answers on Special Education and Homelessness
(2008)

Download the Office of Special Education Programs' (OSEP) Dear Colleague Letter on Education for Highly Mobile Children

Read policy documents affecting the education of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities

Read the OSEP memo 11-07 (January 2011): A Response to Intervention (RtI) Process Cannot Be Used to Delay-Deny an Evaluation for Eligibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Other Resources

National Center for Homeless Education
The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) serves as the information and technical assistance center for the U.S. Department of Education's Education for Homeless Children and Youth program.
Visit NCHE's Special Education resource webpage.

NAEHCY 2017 Conference
Chicago, IL
October 28-31, 2017
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
Homeless Students in ESEA Reauthorization
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