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Basic Shelter Rights (Emergency Assistance)

Produced by Massachusetts Advocates for the Education of Homeless Children and Youths, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed April, 2022

If you are. . .

  • staying in a shelter or motel,
  • doubling up with friends or family,
  • staying someplace people are not meant to live, or
  • having trouble finding a place to stay.

You have the right to choose your child’s school

  • Your child can keep going to the same school, or
  • You can choose a new school for your child where you live now.

My child needs to stay in the same school

The school must pick your child up at her new home or shelter, if it is not too far away.  The school districts

  • where your child lives, and
  • where your child goes to school

must work together to get your child to school.

School bus image licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on Tell the school why it is important for your child to stay at her school. If your child has a disability, tell the school.


If you choose a new school, the school must enroll your child right away

Tell the school you are homeless. You do not need to give the school proof of where you live. The school can get any papers they need after your child is already going to school.  The school must give your child the same transportation and services it gives all other children.

What if the school does not allow my child to enroll, stay at school, or give us transportation?

The school must give you a letter that explains its decision.

Appeal - write to the school. List the reasons why you disagree with their decision.

If you appeal, the school must provide transportation until your appeal is decided.

school house image from can I get help?

The Office for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
State Coordinator Sarah Slautterback
(781) 338-6330
Student Support Program Coordinator Elizabeth Harris
(781) 338-6310

Call your school and ask for your local Homeless Education Liaison

The Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice
(617) 482-8686

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
(781) 595-7570

Children's Law Center of Massachusetts
(781) 581-1977

Massachusetts Advocates for Children
(617) 357-8431

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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