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Homeless Children and McKinney Vento Policy Act


McKinney Vento Policy Act provides support and assistance to the homeless children. The Act remains one of the primary legislative responses to homelessness at a federal level. The federal task force on homelessness emerged in 1983 with the aim of providing information to the local authorities on obtaining surplus federal property. The Homeless Person Survival Act became part of the policy in 1989 that focused on providing emergency relief measures and long-term solutions against homelessness. It adopted programs such as supplemental security income, food stamps, medical aid and aid to families. McKinney renamed the act as McKinney Vento Act. Vento Act constitutes of fifteen programs concentrating on providing services to the homeless people including transition housing, emergency shelter, job training, education, primary healthcare and permanent housing. The Vento program was amended four times with several enhancements and expansions. The purpose of the Act was to target majority population and improving survival opportunities (EDSC, 2013).
The changes of the 1990s focused on supporting children by involving local educational agencies to assure homeless children’s access to education. The Act expanded opportunities for attaining public education after receiving state’s grants. The Rural Homeless Housing Assistance programs further increased the chances of survival for the homeless in America. Education of homeless children and youth programs exhibited flexibility is the use of funds as it identified rights of homeless preschoolers to acquire education free. Another concern of the policy was to provide shelter to the children that could contribute towards improved lifestyle. Creation of a new process under McKinney Act involved local redevelopment agencies that assisted homeless persons. The significance of the Vento programs increased with time due to increased funding and expansion. The program also faces challenges as the issue of homelessness increased with time. The most prominent features of the program involve a concept of free education thus providing better living opportunities to the poor and homeless (Foscarinas, 1996).

  1. Social problem

Homelessness remains one of the crucial social problems in America affecting the growth and development of children. Children belonging to poor backgrounds face difficulties due to their parent’s financial unstable state. A report presented by National Center of Homelessness states that one in every thirty American children is homeless. Evidence indicates that 2.5 million American children are homeless depicting a rise of 8 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year. The situation is alarming depicting need for taking stringent actions that could provide homes to the children. Poverty remains one of the common factor contributing towards homelessness. Children belonging to low working-class and poor backgrounds lack adequate living facilities (NBC, 2014). Homelessness is a social problem because it affects the present and future of a child. Poor Americans are unable to provide houses to their children due to rising property prices. Social factors contributing to homelessness involve lack of affordable housing, financial instability, family breakdown and inadequate mental health services (NHC, 2011).
In America, lack of permanent housing remains one of the significant factor contributing to homelessness. Children live in temporary shelters, vehicles, abandoned buildings and even on streets reflecting their unstable conditions. The number of homeless people in America was reported as 564,708 by National Alliance for Endless homes. The facts of 2016 depicted that 21.8 percent of the Californian population experienced homelessness. The homeless population in New York was 15.7%. Homelessness reflects exceptional struggles of the children to adjust to the society. Homelessness remains high in Los Angeles, Boston and Washington D.C. availability of affordable housing remains relatively low in American states (Neiditch, 2017).
Homelessness affects the mental and physical capabilities of the children that also influence their education gaps. Homelessness a multitude of problems influencing the child throughout his life. Million of children encounter the problem of homelessness resulting in their lack of access to adequate living facilities. Lack of food, education and medical services are common problems. The children develop the feeling that the society discarded them and they have no importance in life. Children who are homeless exhibits high levels of stress and mental instability. A social problem is also apparent as homelessness displays a gap between the rich and the poor. Serious health problems include tuberculosis, malnutrition, diarrhoea and hepatitis. Children without homes remain vulnerable to violence, crimes and social injustice (Mago, et al., 2013).

  1. Description of the policy

Mckinney Vento Act represents the initial steps of the American state towards establishing national agenda for taking actions against the eradication of homelessness. It represents a landmark legislation due to the introduction of a better approach for taking care of the lives of poor homeless children. McKinney Vento Act constructed programs to provide relief to the children facing homelessness. The program works to save lives and help children in regaining stability. The policy designed goals to save many homeless children in America and provide the economic, social and mental opportunities. The policy provided permanent and stable housing to many homeless children thus improving their futures. The policy focused on keeping homeless children at houses at reasonable costs. Affordable shelters provided efficient solutions to deal with the problem at a public level. Proper housing and shelters focused on removing the negative feelings thus increasing children opportunities for growth. The policy focused on providing residential facilities to each homeless children (NBC, 2014).
The policy addresses the problem of homelessness at a local and federal level to cater the needs of a vast majority. Healthcare for Homeless (HCH) is also part of the policy that aims at providing medical assistance to the homeless children. The prevalence of diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis and hepatitis is high among poor homeless children so the program provides vaccines and adopts preventive measures that protect children from developing complex diseases. Health-related services for homeless children enhanced their living conditions. The HCH programs involved innovative approach enhancing the health of children through improving access to healthcare services. HCH programs also focus on acquiring grants required to provide better and enhanced health to the homeless children. It emphasizes on identifying the needs of the children. The competitive grant program, funding medical health, physical health and social services remained part of the program. The Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act provided funding of $11 billion in 2015. The capacities will focus on further meeting the needs of the children. The preventive measures against acute and chronic diseases provide further support to the children. Specially designed emergency departments also work to provide on-time service. The HCH programs link the medical aid programs with the residential programs including medical respite and permanent supportive housing. The policy resulted in high-cost service utilization. Under cooperative agreements between private and state agencies maximizes the chances of revenues. The central concern of the policy is to break the connections between poor health and homelessness. Improving outcomes of healthcare interventions also remain part of the strategy. The adoption of the policy at national level targets to remove health disparities and provide equal medical opportunities to the poor. it also concentrates on the promotion of best practices through research, education, technical assistance, training and advocacy (NHC, 2011).

Mckinney Vento policy also introduced the Youth Education program with the goal of providing free educational facilities and learning opportunities to the children. The program developed a scenario to target poor and homeless children who lacked access to equal education to due to their poor backgrounds. The program involved policies and strategies that targeted the homeless children. Provision of free public level education to the children increased their future learning capabilities. Providing training and technical assistance also remains part of the program. The purpose was to improve the enrollment rates of the homeless children and improving their attendance rate by supporting them through grants and aids. The Education Student Success Act was a further enhancement of the policy that emphasized on improving the educational performance of the students and promote a positive learning environment. Free public education, free preschool education and youth education remain part of the policing. The policy ensured that the children lacking access to permanent shelter develop capabilities and learn under the same standards as other children. The education program focused on adopting education liaison for identifying and assisting families and children. The policy ensured that the secretary and the federal agencies provide grants for the education programs. It concentrated on the elimination of barriers influencing the low enrollment and attendance of the children. The youth must be able to meet the educational challenges and perform better in academic life. Grants were used appropriately to carry state’s plan of education enhancement. Appropriate use of grant and sub-grants remained part of the policy. The trainers identified the needs of the homeless children and tried to provide special learning opportunities to the children exhibiting psychological problems. The policy involved the guardians of children. Collaboration between the instructors and the families improved the comprehensive education of the children. The collaboration between different agencies plays an effective role in discussing the matters related to child’s development. In case of children under juvenile delinquency, the educational instructors also communicate with the juvenile agencies (EDSC, 2013).

  1. Population

The HCH program targeted the poor populations including both boys and girls that faced the problem of homelessness. The initial condition of selection was unstable housing or having no shelters. In the year 2010, it allocated funds of $2.1 billion providing assistance to 1,018,084. The program ensured the provision of healthcare services to the children who had no homes. The healthcare department served a population of 827,519 homeless children with 44% females. Among the targeted population, 91% were living below poverty line and 66% were having no health insurance. The findings reveal that 38.1% patients had no shelters while 13.7% lived in transitional living facilities. The remaining population included those living with those living in motels and apartments (20%) and on streets 9.3% (NHC, 2011).
The education program targeted the children who were homeless and faced difficulties with the enrollment, paying fees and maintaining low attendance. The education programs targeted the families that encountered economic hardships and were unable to provide quality education to their children. It targeted children living in transitional shelters and had no permanent home. It also ensures the provision of education to the children that live in open spaces, car parking and abandoned buildings. The total amount allocated for the educational facilities involved $150,000 during the year 2001 (EDSC, 2013).

  1. Social welfare policy

The social welfare policy deals with improving the overall welfare of the children by helping them in overcoming deprivations. The welfare policy focuses on raising awareness of the population regarding homelessness and its issues. Children encounter the problem of homelessness in cities, country and across the state. The welfare policy involves national efforts to identify and respond to the issue of homelessness and associated factors such as trauma and poverty. The social welfare policy concentrates on providing social services and support that mitigates the adversities of homelessness on children. It trains and assists social services for the provision of trauma-based care. It identified best practices that minimize the threats of personality deterioration. Child welfare relies on social, economic and health perspectives. To maximize the welfare outcomes the social welfare policy emphasizes on providing effective healthcare facilities, social services and education (NHC, 2011).

The social welfare policy focuses on investigating community initiative reports regarding abuse, neglect and harmful living conditions. It addresses the causes of neglect and abuse to find out the safety-related issues and formulates a future strategy for dealing with the situation. The welfare policy ensures the provision of adequate care and providing them home-like environment. Securing permanent placements is one of the biggest concerns of the policy as it shows connections with other aspects of development. Child abuse was one of the highly reported issues in case of homeless children, playing a negative role in their development. Welfare policy including Child Protective Services (CPS) determines state’s guidelines for ensuring the safety of the homeless children. Children removed from the home are legal custody of the welfare agency that must take adequate measures for providing safe living opportunities (Foscarinas, 1996).

The overall assessment of the McKinney Vento program depicts that the problem of homelessness grew in recent years. The actions are inadequate to fulfil the needs of all homeless children. Lack of grants and financial aid limits the capacity of the agency as many children still avail no benefit from the medical and education assistance programs. The program did not abate homelessness representing threats of further increase. The shortcomings of the policy depict need for targeting wider population and providing them healthcare and educational services. The policy needs to address the issue of instability encountered by the homeless children and provide jobs to the young people.
The analysis of the McKinney reform indicates the state still needs to enhance the program goals (Anderson, 1995).


  • The policy poses weaknesses as it is difficult to identify the homeless child according to the given criteria. Schools that are unable to identify liaison face difficulty in assisting the families (Neiditch, 2017).
  • Schools involved in the provision of free education lacks confidentiality relates to the family circumstances (Mago, et al., 2013).
  • Students and staff often create negative environments that a negative role and affects the learning capabilities of the homeless children. They may develop negative feelings that undermine their academic performance (EDSC, 2013).
  • Indifferent treatment from teachers and educators deteriorates personality and develop a sense of rejection (NBC, 2014).
  • McKinney policy does not concentrate on identifying the factors affecting the educational performance of the homeless children (Anderson, 1995).
  • Irrespective of the policy’s efforts the attendance and enrollment of homeless children at schools remain low depicting many children are unable to avail the benefits (Foscarinas, 1996).

6. Conclusion

The McKinney Vento policy act remains one of the visible attempts of the state to overcome the problem of homelessness. The program involves comprehensive framework working to promote the safety of homeless children through the provision of permanent shelters. Homeless children face difficulties to adjust to schools causing their low enrollment and absenteeism. Health problems such as tuberculosis and hepatitis are results of poor living facilities. The state acquired grants to provide better houses, medical aid and education to the homeless children. The healthcare program for the homeless children aims at providing healthy lifestyles while the education policy provided free education to these children. The practical implications of the policy reveal shortcomings as the number of homeless children increase every year. the education program reveals weaknesses as many homeless children are unable to overcome the feelings of rejection. The program needs to target massive populations and identify policy weaknesses.


Anderson, L. (1995). An Evaluation of State and Local Efforts to Serve the Educational Needs of Homeless Children and Youth. Department of Education.
EDSC. (2013). The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Subtitle VII-B Reauthorized by Title IX, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. EDSC.
Foscarinas, M. (1996). The Federal Response: The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act,” in Homelessness in America. NW, Washington: National Coalition for the Homeless.
NBC. (2014). One in 30 American Children Is Homeless, Report Says. Retrieved 03 10, 2018, from
Neiditch, D. (2017). How Bad is Homelessness In America? Retrieved 03 10, 2018, from
Mago, V. K., corresponding, Morden, H. K., Fritz, C., Wu, T., Namazi, S., et al. (2013). Analyzing the impact of social factors on homelessness: a Fuzzy Cognitive Map approach. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak, 13 (94).



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