The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the primary piece of federal legislation dealing with the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. Homelessness is legally defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This may include:
- Living with friends, relatives, or someone else because they lost their home or cannot afford a home;
- Staying in a hotel or motel;
- Living in an emergency or transitional shelter, a domestic violence shelter, runaway, or homeless shelter;
- Living in substandard housing;
- Living in a car, park, public place, abandoned building, bus or train station, campground, or inadequate trailer;
- Awaiting placement in foster care or abandoned in a hospital;
- Youth living on their own, even if their families want them to come home.