The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youths as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Defined as:
A fixed residence is one that is stationary, permanent, and not subject to change.
A regular residence is one that is used on a normal, standard, and consistent basis.
An adequate residence is one that is sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments.
This definition also includes:
- Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason
- Children and youths who may be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, emergency or transitional shelters
- Children and youths 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 youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings, or
- Abandoned in hospitals or unaccompanied youth- not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian and meet the homeless definition
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are children who are living in similar circumstances listed above