Review Key Points

Listen to Barbara Duffield, Director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, summarize the key points of this lesson about the definition of homelessness. [00:01:35] | Read the transcript

Key Points about the Definition of Homelessness

The key point of this lesson was to become familiar with the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness and its relationship to Head Start and homelessness. There are three key reasons why understanding the definition of homelessness is so important for Head Start staff:

First, the very same definition is now included in the 2007 Head Start Act. Children who meet the definition of homelessness are now categorically eligible for Head Start. This means that homeless status, rather than income, makes families eligible for Head Start.

In addition, Head Start is required to identify and prioritize children who meet the homeless definition, and remove barriers to their enrollment and participation in Head Start. This also cannot occur without a firm grasp of who meets the definition of homelessness.

And finally, it is critical for Head Start staff to understand the definition of homelessness because of the significant hardships and harm to child and family development caused by homelessness. In particular, children in homeless situations are at great risk for developmental delays, social and emotional problems, and chronic health problems.

In conclusion, Head Start is uniquely poised to assist children and families experiencing homelessness, but the first step in doing so is to understand the different kinds of living situations that are considered homeless.

Congratulations on completing this lesson! You may download a Certificate of Completion to commemorate this accomplishment.

Last Reviewed: July 2014

Last Updated: January 6, 2017