Homeless Education

Project HOPE - Virginia Beach is the homeless education program for Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) and is facilitated by staff in the division’s Office of School Social Work Services. Services and supports are provided to homeless children and youth pursuant to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which is federal legislation that ensures educational rights and protection for youth and children experiencing homelessness.

Project HOPE Contact Information:
VBCPS Office of School Social Work Services
Mr. Damion Wilson, Homeless Education Liaison
Mr. Dustin Schwandt, School Social Worker
757-263-2300, option 1
Project HOPE

Who is considered homeless?

According to federal legislation, any child who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence is considered homeless. Children qualify if they are:

  • sharing housing with others due to loss of housing, economic hardship or another similar reason;
  • living in hotels, motels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations;
  • living in emergency or transitional shelters;
  • abandoned in hospitals/unaccompanied youth;
  • awaiting foster care placement;
  • living in a public/private place not designed for humans to live;
  • living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations; or
  • are migratory children.

Additionally, students residing on their own or with someone who is not their parent or legal guardian due to being in a homeless situation are considered Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.

Services provided by VBCPS

If a student is found eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, VBCPS can provide the following services:

  • Transportation: Transportation services to a student’s school of origin are arranged for by the Office of School Social Work Services.
  • Free Meals: Students are automatically enrolled to receive free meals (breakfast and lunch) and do not need to complete paperwork through VBCPS Food Services.
  • Clothing and School Supplies: School Social Work Services works with community partners to provide emergency clothing and/or school supplies if needed.
  • Referrals to local resources

To determine the eligibility of a student and the entire household for Project HOPE, parents/guardians should complete the Project HOPE domicile form. There are places on the form to document whether or not additional services as noted above are needed.


Project HOPE Domicile Form


What families experiencing homeless need to know

Parents/guardians do not need a permanent address to enroll a child in school.

Homeless children and youth have a right to enroll immediately in school, even if:

  • students do not have required documents, such as school records, records of immunization and other required health records, proof of residency, guardianship, or other documents; or
  • students have missed application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness.

Students have the right to enroll in either the school of origin (school the child or youth attended before becoming homeless or was last enrolled) or the school in the attendance zone where the child is currently living, whichever circumstance proves to be in the child’s best interest.

A child has the right to transportation services to and from the school of origin if returning to their home school is found to be in their best interest.

A child has the right to participate in extracurricular activities and all federal, state, or local programs for which he/she is eligible.

Unaccompanied homeless youth have these same rights and can be assisted by the Homeless Education Liaison or their designee.

Legal Reference: The McKinney-Vento Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.), Subtitle B of title VII.