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Homeless & Foster Care Programs


Federal Law - McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance ActThis federal legislation was originally authorized in 1987 and most recently re-authorized in December 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This legislation ensures children and youth experiencing homelessness have immediate and equal access to public education.

The Act’s Key Provisions

The McKinney-Vento Act (Section 725) specifies and protects the rights of children and youth in homeless situations. Highlights include:

  • Immediate Enrollment. The right to be enrolled immediately in school without immunization or academic records, and birth certificate, regardless of district policy.
  • Transportation. Students in highly mobile or homeless situations are entitled to transportation to and from the school of origin. If it is feasible, in the student’s best interest, and requested by the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth.
  • Services. Students experiencing homelessness are entitled to the same programs and services that are availablel to other children in the District, such as gifted and talented education, special education, vocational education, English Language Learner services, and tutoring. Students are automatically eligible for Title I services and District must set aside funds as necessary to provide services.

Homeless Student School Choice

Students who are experiencing homelessness have the right to attend school in their school of origin or in the school in the attendance area where the family or youth is currently residing. School of origin is defined as the school in which the child/youth was enrolled when they became homeless or the school in which the child/youth was last enrolled. The campus a child attends is determined by which campus can serve the best interests of the child. In Texas, a student experiencing homelessness may enroll in any district they choose, regardless of the location of their residence, school of origin or attendance zone campus.

Who are Homeless Children and Youth?

Before schools can be certain they are complying with legislation related to educating students experiencing homelessness, they must understand who can be considered homeless. The McKinney-Vento Act (Sec. 725) defines “homeless children and youths’ (school-aged and younger) as:

  • Children and youths who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including children and youths who are:
  • Sharing the housing of other persons temporarily due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;
  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
  • Living in emergency or transitional shelters;
  • Abandoned in hospitals;
  • Awaiting foster care placement;
  • Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodations;
  • Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings;
  • Migratory children who quality as homeless because they are living in the circumstances described above;
  • The term unaccompanied youth includes a youth, not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. This would include runaways living in runaway shelters, abandoned buildings, cars, on the streets, or in other inadequate housing: children and youths denied housing by their families (sometimes referred to as “throwaway children and youths”); and school-age unwed mothers living in h omes for unwed mothers because they have no other housing available.

Unaccompanied Youth

These are youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. This would include youth living in runaway shelters, abandoned buildings, cars, on the streets, or in other inadequate housing and children and youth denied housing by their families (sometimes referred to as “throwaway” children and youth), and school-age unwed mothers, living in homes for unwed mothers, who have no other housing available.

In determining whether or not a child or youth is homeless, consider the relative permanence of the living arrangements. Determination of homelessness should be made on a case-by-case basis.

Dispute Resolution – If problems arise between the school and parents or between districts, the parent shall be referred to the school’s homeless liaison. In the meantime, the student must remain in school and receive transportation.

  • Homeless / Foster Parent & Family Engagement Liason
  • Barbie Birnbaum
  • 512-273-2522 EXT 1308

State Law - Texas Education CodeAll Texas public schools, charter schools, and education service centers,collectively known as local education agencies (LEAs), must follow federal rules concerning the education of homelesss students. Texas Education code (TEC) §§ 25.001, 25.002, and 29.153 address educational rights for homeless students.

Students and Parents Rights

Families in Transition – Community Flyer

Familias en transición – Folleto comunitario

McKinney-Vento Eligibility Flowchart

McKinney-Vento Notice of Rights

McKinney Vento – Asistencia para personas sin hogar

School Selection Fact Sheet

School Selection Provisions from the McKinney-Vento Act and the Texas Education Code

Checklist for McKinney-Vento School Selection Considerations: School of Origin or Local Attendance Zone?

Texas Education for Homeless Children and Youth


Foster Care

Foster Care & Student Success

Foster Care & Student Success, housed in Texas Education Agency’s Division of Federal and State Education Policy maintains resources and information to advance the eduction of students impacted by foster care. The resources and materials provide guidance related to the unique circumstances surrounding students who are in the foster care system and attend public schools. In Texas, nearly 16,000 school-aged students are in foster care at any given time.

The Foster Care & Student Success Web content is divided into the following areas:

Foster Care & Student Success Resource Guide

TEA developed a premier resource to support Texas schools in addressing the education of students in Foster care: Texas Foster Care & Student Success Resource Guide (PDF) . This guide is the product of collaboration with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the Supreme Court of Texas, and the Permanent Judicial Commissiion for Children, Youth and Families (Children’s Commission). This e-guide and training manual contains a variety of key researched-based topics and calls attention to important matters related to the education of students in foster care. The guide promotes best practices and contains numerous tips, tools, resources, and links to more information.

Resources for Students

Students experiencing homelessness have the same rights to a free appropriate public education as their fellow classmates. They are protected under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Protection Act. which helps ensure they receive a high-quality education. Schools are also required to have, by law, a staff member to act as a liaison for students experiencing homelessness. These liaisons work with students to connect them to valuable resource, identify students in homeless situations, enroll them in school, and give them “full and equal opportunity to succeed.” To help with that, here is a round up of the resources we find most helpful for students experiencing homelessness.


    Aunt Bertha / allows you to search for free or reduced cost services like food pantry, clothes closet, housing, and medical care in your area. It is a great way to connect families and students to housing, food, clothes, and medical care they may lack. 


    Texas has a free service which can help connect you to appropriate social service agencies and provide their contact information. It is supported by the state’s Health and Human Service Commission’s Texas Information and Referral Network. This service can be accessed via its web site (searchable by service type and location), or by phone (dial 2-1-1).


    The Texas Education for Homeless Children and Youth Support Center, or TEHCY, maintains a list of resources available state-wide to students experiencing homelessness. You can access their website for resources and support, or call their toll-free number at 1-800-445-3142


    LifeWorks is a nonprofit agency in Austin which helps homeless and runaway youth.  This organization supports a wide variety of services including an emergency shelter.


    Caritas of Austin offers short-term assistance such as meals, groceries, emergency rental and utility assistance to families in the Austin area, as well as education and job-placement classes.


    The Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) is an organization of 60 nonprofit youth service agencies and private individuals who share the common goal of creating better options and improving available services for youth and families in crisis.  TNOYS provides sound leadership, high-quality training, and technical assistance, timely information, and critical support services that help professionals and agencies keep abreast of developments in a rapidly changing environment.


    Texas Homeless Network (THN) is a non-profit membership-based organization helping communities strategically plan to prevent and end homelessness. THN works to end homelessness in Texas by collaborating with all communities, large and small, across the state to build systems to achieve this goal.

Charitable Food

  • 1033 Highway 71 West

    Bastrop, Texas 78602


    Operates a food pantry. Third Saturdays 10:30 am – 11:30 am

  • 806 Fayette Street

    Bastrop, Texas 78602


    Provides an emergency food pantry for Bastrop county residents. Offers bi-monthly social activities for oldere adults. Offers annua holiday assistance through the Thanksgiving basket and Holiday basket programs. 

    Monthly Emergency Food Distribution:

    Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

    8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

    1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

    Emergency Food Assistance available by appointment.

    Monthly Homeless Distribution:

    Second Monday of the month from 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

    Fresh Food for Families:

    Third Friday of the month from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

  • 5630 FM 535

    Cedar Creek, Texas 78612


    Provides a weekly food pantry for area residents.

    Food pantry: Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


  • 125 Vosss Parkway

    Cedar Creek, Texas 78612


    Operates mobile food pantry.

    Open first Saturday of month, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.