mckinney-vento education for homeless children and youth

  • Charlie's Law--History


    1994 - 2024

    30h Anniversary of the passage of the Illinois Education of Homeless Children Act 

    "Charlie's Law"

     Charlie, the little boy whose image launched the movement to improve homeless children's educational rights...

    Pat Van Doren's poignant, memorable, photo adorned every piece of promotional material about the

    ILLINOIS EDUCATION FOR HOMELESS CHILDREN ACT of 1994. We commemorate 1993 as the beginning of this campaign because it's when the family was turned away from their school, the act that began the legislative effort to change the Illinois state law. The law passed in 1994.


    Read an excerptfrom Diane's book, Crossing the Line: Taking Steps to End Homelessness, about the improbable beginnings of this law, now represented in the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act of 2001 (updated 12/15). 

    Definition of "homeless" in this law.

    ORDER DIANE'S BOOK, Crossing the Line: Taking Steps to End Homelessness that contains the story of Charlie and this law.

    This book and Diane's other books are also available through Amazon and other book vendors.


  • Homeless Education Rights

     Understanding McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Rights

    Homeless students have strong rights regarding their education. This section will attempt to present those rights in a way that will be helpful to homeless families and teens, educators, shelter staff, and persons concerned about access to education for the millions of kids without homes in this country.

    HEAR US thanks these partner organizations for providing comprehensive educational resources on the issue of families and youth experiencing homelessness:

    SHC color slogan

    SchoolHouse Connection,
    a resource for all things related to education, birth through higher ed, offers a plethora of information.


    nche logo
    National Center for Homeless Education 
    provides resources for students, parents, educators and anyone concerned about educational access for students experiencing homelessness. 


  • My Own Four Walls '05


    My Own Four Walls...
    ...the first and best film
    HEAR US ever made!
    My Own 4 Walls logoFilmed by
    Diane Nilan

    Edited by Dr. Laura Vazquez, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, and her filmmaking students. 

    (c) 2007


    My Own Four Walls, Diane's first film, before she knew anything about filmmaking or RVing. 

    Back in 2005, Diane set out on an improbable journey across the US to capture images and wisdom from kids experiencing homelessness. 

    She went to places not thought of as having homeless kids--small towns, mid-size cities, rural areas, resort communities--and was connected to plenty of kids willing to share their stories. She got parental/guardian permission and then just let the kids talk. 

    In March 2007, My Own Four Walls was released. 

    The original DVD contained 4 videos. Those are now available on a YouTube playlist.

    Discussion Guide

    Perfect film to train school staff on the importance of the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act!

    Ideal for all ages.  


    1 3M THEcover copy

    NOW ACCEPTING! Bulk Pre-Orders

    The Three Melissas - 
    The Practical Guide to Surviving Family Homelessness

    Every family experiencing homelessness needs to have a copy of this handbook! So do people who work with families experiencing homelessness.  The Three Melissas whose wisdom fills this unique and essential book provided invaluable tips and encouragement for families. Their topics include how to handle situations arising when doubled up, how to manage food issues, how to navigate school enrollment, how to tend to your kids' needs and's a perfect McKinney-Vento tool!

    The book is scheduled to be available September '24. 

    HEAR US is now accepting bulk pre-orders. Bulk order price $10 book ($15 retail). HEAR US will provide an official quote/pre-order confirmation. Shipping costs will be added based on order quantity and location. Email pre-order to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or contact her for info. 


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