With increasing awareness of the growing homeless population in the United States, in 1987 Congress passed the first legislation to address the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Originally introduced in 1986 as the Homeless Persons' Survival Act, it was renamed for a chief sponsor and signed into law as the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100–77). Key educational provisions ensured access to free and appropriate public education to the increased number of students experiencing homelessness. Subsequent reauthorizations have expanded legal protections and financial resources to increase educational participation and achievement of children and youth who are homeless.

Addressing Educational Barriers

Initially, the McKinney Act required states to review and modify residency requirements that were blocking school enrollment of students whose families had ...

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