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Management Bulletin 18-04

Early Learning and Care Division

Subject: Homeless Children and Youth

Number: 18-04

Date: July 2018

Expires: Until Rescinded

Authority: Assembly Bill 99, Statutes of 2017, Chapter 15, California Education Code, Chapter 2, Section 8208(ak)

Attention: Executive Directors and Program Administrators of ALL Child Care and Development Contractors: Center-based Child Care and Development (CCTR); California State Preschool (CSPP); Family Child Care Homes Education Networks (CFCC); Programs for Special Needs Children (Handicapped) (CHAN); Migrant (Center-based) (CMIG); CalWORKs Stage 2 (C2AP); CalWORKs Stage 3 (C3AP); California Alternative Payment Program (CAPP); Migrant Alternative Payment Program (CMAP); and Resource and Referral (CRRP)


The purpose of this Management Bulletin (MB) is to notify California Department of Education (CDE), Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD) contractors of recent changes to the definition of homeless children and youth and to provide guidance on the enrollment of families who are experiencing homelessness.


The Budget Act of 2017, Assembly Bill (AB) 99, added the definition of homeless in Education Code (EC), Section 8208(ak) to align with the McKinney-Vento Act. This change was prompted by recommendations of the AB 104 Stakeholder group which can be found at, as well as an intent to align with federal policies, including the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and Head Start.

The California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR), Section 18078(g), as part of the Implementation Guidance attached to MB 17-04, currently does not align with the definition of homeless used in the federal McKinney-Vento Act. Additionally, in recent years, federal regulations implementing CCDBG have been revised to include special provisions related to homeless families, which allow for families who are experiencing homelessness to receive services pending submission of required documentation as well as for the provision of outreach efforts and specialized training. This MB communicates these provisions for contractors in order to better support and serve families who are experiencing homelessness.


Effective July 1, 2017, a family eligible for child care and development services under EC, Section 8263 as homeless will be determined as such using the definition found in the McKinney-Vento Act in Title 42, U.S. Section 11434(a)(2). This definition supersedes the definition for homeless found in 5 CCR Section 18078(g) of the Implementation Guidance attached to MB 17-14.

The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youths as individual who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and 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, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
  • Children and youth living in emergency or transitional shelters or are abandoned in hospitals;
  • 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
  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are children who are living in similar circumstances listed above.

In order to meet the eligibility requirements for being homeless, pursuant to EC, Section 8263(a)(1)(A)(iii), families must provide the following documentation as described in 5 CCR, Section 18090, which includes either:

  • a written referral from a legal, medical or social service agency, a written referral from a local educational agency liaison for homeless children and youth, a Head Start Program, or an emergency or a transitional shelter or
  • a written parental declaration that the family is homeless and a statement describing the family’s current living situation.

In order to meet the need requirements for receiving services as homeless, as specified in EC, Section 8263(a)(1)(B)  the family must either:

  • provide a written referral from one of the entities detailed in the first bullet above under eligibility requirements. This referral is sufficient enough to also establish their “need” for services pursuant to EC, Section 8263(a)(1)(B)(i)(III); or
  • provide a written parental declaration of homelessness supported by documentation of at least one of the need requirements in accordance with EC, Section 8263(a)(1)(B) which include seeking permanent housing for family stability, seeking employment, or engaging in vocational training, employment, or an educational program for English Language Learners or to attain a high school diploma or general educational development (GED) certificate.

If the “need” indicated on the application for services is “Seeking Permanent Housing for Family Stability,” contractors must follow the directives in Section 18091 in the Implementation Guidance issued with MB 17-14.

Based on federal CCDBG regulations, although not mandated, agencies should make every effort to support the homeless population by doing the following:

  • Provide for the enrollment of homeless children pending the submittal of all eligibility and need documentation. If the parent has been identified as homeless on the application, contractors should permit the enrollment of homeless children to begin immediately upon the parent signing the application for services. Pursuant to 5 CCR, Section 18094, the contractor is required to provide the family with a Notice of Action, approving or denying services within 30 days of the parent signing the application for services. During this 30 day period, contractors are encouraged to support the homeless family by providing child care services while the family obtains the required documentation of their need. When the parent is unable to provide the required documentation of need, including documentation of seeking permanent housing, within the 30 day period, the contractor is required to provide a Notice of Action, Denial of Services stating that the denial is due to the inability to provide required documentation of need. If the family has been found ineligible after all documentation is received, it is not considered an improper payment and the family should be immediately disenrolled. The family must be provided due process pursuant to 5 CCR Section 18094.
  • Allow immediate enrollment of homeless families without immunization records, giving families a grace period to obtain/provide proof of immunizations. The grace period for obtaining the immunization records can also be considered the 30 day period between the parent signing the application of services and the day the contractor accepts or denies the application. At the end of the 30 day period the contractor shall provide a Notice of Action, pursuant to 5 CCR, Section 18094 approving or denying services, indicating if failure to provide the immunization records is the reason for denial of services, if applicable. General guidance from Community Care Licensing is that a child who is homeless may be admitted immediately even if the child arrives without immunization records. Contractors should utilize their resources to make sure these students have received all required immunizations as soon as possible. It is expected that if there is a delay in obtaining immunizations, that this information be documented and readily available during inspection by Community Care licensing. Note: Alternative Payment Programs are not required to collect immunization records, as stated in 5CCR, Section 18081.
  • Do not require a fixed address or mailing address. Homeless families may need to receive notices and other information via email, at school, from the child care provider, or by picking up the mail at the contractor’s place of business.
  • Conduct specific outreach to families experiencing homelessness. This could be done using some of the provided sample documents on the CDE resources web page found at
  • Provide or participate in available training and technical assistance on identifying the homeless and serving homeless families. ELCD is currently developing a new set of modules to be posted on the California Early Childhood Online (CECO) web site to help agencies support the homeless population they are serving. In the meantime, contractors can visit the Head Start Early Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) web site which has several modules available. The Head Start ECLKC web site can be found at
Resources Related to Serving Homeless Families and Children

As California continues to work to best serve families and children who are experiencing homelessness, there are resources at the federal, state, and local level to support and assist programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families provides a document titled Policies and Procedures to Increase Access to ECE Services for Homeless Children & Families. This particular document provides some strategies for working with children and families who are homeless and identifies the policies specific to both Head Start and policies specific to the Child Care and Development Fund. The document can be found at

The Office of Head Start ECLKC web site has created modules as an interactive learning series to support and assist professionals in the early childhood field to learn how to identify and provide outreach to children and families who are experiencing homelessness. The information and modules can be found at the Head Start web page at

For more information regarding the education of children and youths experiencing homelessness in the State of California, contact Leanne Wheeler, Consultant and State Homeless Coordinator for the California Department of Education, Coordinated School Health and Safety Office, at 916-319-0383 or by email at

Each Local Educational Agency (LEA) designates a staff member as a local homeless educational liaison. This individual, among other things, links students and their families to the schools and community services, assists the student with enrolling in school, provides educational services for which they are eligible and gives referrals to health, mental health, dental and other appropriate services. You can find contact information for your LEA Homeless Liaison at the CDE Homeless Education web page at

If you have any questions regarding the information in this MB, please contact your assigned Early Learning and Care Field Services Consultant. A list of consultants can be found on the CDE Consultant Regional Assignments web page at

This Management Bulletin is mandatory only to the extent that it cites a specific statutory and/or regulatory requirement. Any portion of this Management Bulletin that is not supported by a specific statutory and/or regulatory requirement is not prescriptive pursuant to California Education Code Section 33308.5.

Questions:   Early Learning and Care Division | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Friday, December 15, 2023
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