Residential Instability and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Education Program

What We Know, Plus Gaps in Research

By The Urban Institute

May 1, 2010

Summary

Children who are homeless face a wide range of challenges. These hurdles can follow the children into the classroom each day and lead to lower test scores, broken bonds and a fractured education. Enter a policy-driven solution, called the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, which promises services and support to help homeless students succeed. This report spells out what we know — and all that we do not know — about the program’s impact on academic outcomes since its creation in 1987. It ends with an urgent call to fill in an array of research gaps so that policymakers can make informed decisions about the program's future and its capacity to ease the burden of residential instability on today’s youth.          

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Research is needed—and now—to clarify how residential instability impacts academic outcomes

Today’s tenuous economic climate has left many Americans homeless or bouncing from one stopgap solution to the next. This volatility invokes a sense of urgency for policymakers and administrators seeking to understand the effectiveness of the decades-old McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program.    

Findings & Stats

An Ambitious Vision

To counter the negative impact of residential instability on academic outcomes, Congress created the McKinney-Vento EHCY program in 1987. This program aims to identify homeless children, help enroll them in school and attend classes, and connect them with services that promote opportunities for academic success.

Statements & Quotations