Authored By: Legal Services Alabama


Children who have lost housing or meet any other definition of "homeless" have rights under federal law.

Does my child count as homeless?

Yes, if you lost housing and are now staying with friends or with relatives.

Yes, if you are living:

  • in an emergency shelter
  • in a transitional shelter
  • in a motel
  • in a domestic violence shelter
  • in a campground
  • in an inadequate trailer park
  • in a car
  • on the street
  • in public or abandoned buildings

I'm homeless. Where can my children go to school?

  • You have a choice.
  • If it is open, you can send your children back to the last school they attended.
  • Or, you can choose instead to have your children go to the local school where you are now staying.

What if I don't have all my children's papers?

  • You can enroll them right away.
  • They have a right to attend school while you help the school get proof of shots and any school records.

Can my children ride the bus to school?

  • Yes. Your children have the same right to transportation as any other children.

What if my children need special help in school?

  • Your children have the right to any services they need for them to learn in school.

Can they make my children go to a school or classroom for homeless children?

  • No. Your children have the right to go to school with children who are not homeless.
  • They have the right to be in classes that are not just for homeless children.

What about my preschool child?

  • Your preschool child has the same right to attend preschool as other children where you stay.

If the school will not take my child, who can I call?

  • Call the State Department of Education in Montgomery at 334-242-8199.

Where can I get more information?

Additional resources on education and homelessness:

Reviewed May 2014 offers legal information, not legal advice. This website provides information on your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online HERE.

Ask Al About...Rights of Homeless Students: The McKinney-Vento Act

Last Review and Update: May 13, 2014
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