Published: March 31, 2020

Training refers to preparing school and district staff with skills and knowledge on the requirements of The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Washington laws governing McKinney-Vento eligible students, and other services to support students.

Many school and district staff have limited or unclear information about what is required by law and how best to support students experiencing homelessness.

School and district staff should receive robust professional training and development to successfully meet students’ needs. This training and development can include learning about the McKinney-Vento law and policies and how to tactfully handle the identification and confidentiality of students. When schools and districts provide sufficient training for staff, they are better equipped to support students experiencing homelessness.

(Note: Acronyms following recommendations indicate sources for those recommendations. See the Sources Key for details.)

Training for Schools and Districts

Goal 1:

All school and district staff, including attendance officers, bus drivers, counselors, food service staff, nurses, principals, registrars, resource officers, and teachers, are annually trained on ways to identify and support students experiencing homelessness.

Recommendations & Strategies
  1. Require McKinney-Vento training for all departments or staff types (e.g., transportation, instructional, student support). Trainings should cover definitions of homelessness, how to look for signs that a student may be experiencing homelessness and how to respond to those signs, how to provide trauma-informed care, and how to bring racial equity into staff work. Training should be in easily accessible formats for all staff (e.g., webinars, in person, summer institutes, etc.). (PE, LE)
    • Strategy 1: Devote a day to providing training for school and district staff on how to best support students experiencing homelessness.
    • Strategy 2: Embed McKinney-Vento training into existing professional development opportunities for staff (e.g., in meetings, summer institutes).
    • Strategy 3: Use a train-the-trainers approach for McKinney-Vento training, in which core staff members (e.g., McKinney-Vento liaisons, foster care providers) receive training and then train and support their colleagues who are working with McKinney-Vento eligible students.
  2. Offer refresher McKinney-Vento trainings tailored to meet the evolving needs of the staff of each district and school building (e.g., training school counselors on the credit accrual process for students experiencing homelessness). (PE, LE)
    • Strategy 1:  Create resources and materials (e.g., tailored handbooks) for each staff type to make sure they have the information they need to learn about the rights of students under McKinney-Vento.

Sources Key

Professional Expertise
Lived Expertise
Mixed-methods Research
Sources include:
Building Changes/Schoolhouse Washington staff; school and district staff interviewed through Schoolhouse Washington-funded projects and the Students of Color project
Students and families of color experiencing homelessness interviewed through the Students of Color project
Beating the Odds quantitative and qualitative analysis showing association between a practice and better-than-predicted outcomes