By federal law, all school districts are required to provide accommodations to children defined as homeless. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act defines homeless to include:
- Children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (commonly referred to as "doubled up"; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks and camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; those awaiting foster care placement or children displaced by a natural disaster (case-by-case basis);
- Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
- Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations or similar settings; and
- migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in the above clauses.