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Identification FAQs

Frequently asked questions related to homeless student data and identification.

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How do I determine if a student is Homeless?

A student is determined homeless if they lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Examples of homelessness include children and youth living in:

  • Shared housing due to economic hardship, loss of housing, or natural disasters
  • Motels or hotels
  • Public or private places not designed for sleeping
  • Trailer parks or campgrounds
  • Cars, parks, and abandoned buildings
  • Shelters
  • Emergency or transitional shelter
If a student becomes permanently housed are they still counted in cumulative count?

Yes. If a student was homeless at any time between July 30 to June 1, they will still be considered homeless.

How does identification affect my funding?

Under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), any student identified for free or reduced-price meals (FRPM) are included in the schools’ socioeconomically disadvantaged accountability subgroup. Homeless students automatically qualify for FRPM, and therefore, generate LCFF funds for LEAs. In addition, homeless students are automatically eligible for Title I services, regardless of their current academic performance.

What are some identification strategies?
  • Ensure every student who enrolls fills out the School Housing Questionnaire (PDF).
  • Ensure homeless student data is properly entered in the Student Information System (SIS) and California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) 5.4/ 5.5.
  • Ensure all school faculty and personnel are trained to identify when a student is homeless.
  • Attend Identification webinars offered by CDE and LEA's.
  • Identifying Children and Youth in Homeless Situations (PDF)
  • This National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) brief summarizes the key provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act related to the identification of children and youth experiencing homelessness, and provides an overview of implementation strategies at the state and local level.
Do LEAs need to verified homelessness every year?

Yes. Homelessness should be verified at the beginning and at the end of each school year to ensure students are appropriately counted for LCFF purposes. If a student is still homeless, no change is necessary; however, if a student is no longer homeless, be sure to populate the program end date to prevent students from inaccurately being reported as homeless.

What is the Housing Questionnaire and how do I complete it?

The California Department of Education (CDE) developed a sample Housing Questionnaire and it is a highly recommended best practice to assist local educational agencies (LEAs) with the identification of homeless children and youth. The Education for Homeless Children and Youth program states that all LEAs and their homeless liaisons must ensure that homeless children and youth are identified by school personnel through outreach and coordination with other agencies. LEAs are defined as county offices of education (COEs), school districts, and charter schools.
LEAs need to take a proactive approach to identify homeless children and youth. It is the first step to connecting these students and their families with information, resources, and supports necessary to ensure that they have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public preschool education, as is provided to other children and youth.

You can access the Housing Questionnaire sample as well as guidance on completing it on the CDE’s Resources for Homeless Children and Youth website.


Questions: Data Reporting Office | dro@cde.ca.gov | 916-327-0219 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 12, 2021
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