U.S. Department of Education


The U.S. Department of Education (ED) promotes student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. ED includes many important organizations and resources of interest to the runaway and homeless youth community, including the Office of Postsecondary Education, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, the Office of Secondary and Elementary Education, the National Center for Homeless Education, and the National Center for Education Statistics.

ED is part of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). USICH is an independent federal agency within the U.S. executive branch that leads the implementation of the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.

Office of Secondary and Elementary Education

Office of Postsecondary Education

Office of Safe and Healthy Students

National Center for Homeless Education

National Center for Education Statistics

The Office of Secondary and Elementary Education helps ensure equal access to education and additional services for students in need of special assistance and support, including children who are low-income, have disabilities or developmental delays, or are homeless or in foster care.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act. The amended McKinney-Vento Act, which provides protections for homeless youth, includes new requirements focusing on:

  • Identifying homeless children and youth.
  • Ensuring coordination with other service providers, including public and private child welfare and social service agencies; law enforcement agencies; juvenile and family courts; agencies providing mental health services; domestic violence agencies; child care providers; runaway and homeless youth centers; providers of services and programs funded under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act; and providers of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing, including public housing agencies, shelter operators, and operators of transitional housing facilities.
  • Providing professional development and technical assistance at both the State and local levels.
  • Removing enrollment barriers.
  • Providing school stability, including the expansion of school of origin and the provision of transportation until the end of the school year, even if a student becomes permanently housed.
  • Protecting privacy of student records, including information about a homeless youth’s living situation.
  • Improving the dispute resolution process for decisions relating to the educational placement of homeless children and youth.
  • Increasing the emphasis on college and career readiness.
  • Establishing a new authority for local liaisons to verify the eligibility of homeless children, youth, and families for HUD homeless assistance programs.

In 2016, ED released guidance to states and school districts on the ESSA provisions for supporting homeless youth. This and subsequent guidance on the implementation of ESSA assist state and local partners in understanding and implementing the law to better protect and serve homeless students and help schools provide them with much needed stability, safety, and support.

A fact sheet on supporting the success of homeless children and youth offers tips for teachers, principals, school leaders, counselors, and other school staff.

The Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) works to promote and expand access to postsecondary education and increase college completion rates for America’s students, broaden global competencies that drive economic success, and strengthen the capacity of colleges and universities to promote reform, innovation, and improvement in postsecondary education.

For runaway and homeless youth, the lack of education is one of the most common barriers to successfully transitioning to adulthood. In 2016, FYSB began a collaboration with OPE to promote positive educational and related outcomes for disconnected youth, particularly through OPE’s Federal TRIO Programs and the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Program and named two Partnership Coordinators, one at each agency.

The Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS) directly supports efforts at the state and local level to improve education outcomes for students with the ultimate goal of providing all students — including homeless youth and neglected and delinquent youth — with a high-quality education. The following OSHS programs, initiatives, and resources may be of particular interest to the runaway and homeless youth community.

  • The Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program provides resources, program support, and technical assistance aimed at eliminating enrollment barriers and providing school access and support for academic success for students experiencing homelessness. This unit administers Education for Homeless Children and Youth Grants for State and Local Activities.
  • The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments offers information and technical assistance to states, districts, schools, institutions of higher learning, and communities focused on improving student supports and academic enrichment. Housed within the center is the Safe Place to Learn resource package, which provides materials to support school efforts to prevent and eliminate peer-to-peer sexual harassment and sexual violence. It is designed to help establish and maintain a safe, supportive learning environment and mitigate factors that interfere with learning. This resource package supports school district and school staff efforts to prevent, intercede, and respond to sexual harassment of K-12 students.

The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) is ED’s technical assistance center for the EHCY program. NCHE works with schools, service providers, parents, and other interested stakeholders to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness can enroll and succeed in school. Resources relevant to runaway and homeless youth stakeholders are provided below.

The National Center for Education Statistics, located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. As part of this undertaking, NCES collects and examines data on student homelessness. Resources of significance to runaway and homeless youth stakeholders can be found below.

Resource type
RHY Partners