Article: Child and Youth Homelessness in Our Nation’s Schools

WASHINGTON  – Federal data was just released regarding homelessness among children and youth.  The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) and First Focus compiled and analyzed the data into an article of the current condition of child and youth homelessness.

Homelessness as a whole has increased across the nation with the continuation of economic troubles.  Many families find themselves suddenly without a car, home, job or all three and struggle knowing how to pull through.  These families often have children in tow and face the challenge of getting them fed, clothed and educated.  Schools have been able to step in and provide assistance for children at risk or currently homeless, but many budget cuts are limiting the amount of money available for such services. 

The number of homeless children and youth has increased nationwide by 41% in the last 2 years.  62% of cases cited the economic downturn as the reason for becoming homeless.  $70 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will go to the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) to assist public schools in doing more to bring these numbers down.  Even so, only one in five school districts will receive any support through ARRA homeless education funds or the regular McKinney-Vento funding.

This money is used by the districts in many different ways such as to increase support, transportation assistance, expanding outreach and identification efforts, strengthening support for specific subpopulations of homeless children and youth and many more.  One school used the funds to hire staff for the sole purpose of checking local motels.  The year prior, they had 191 identified homeless students, but at the end of that year of targeted searching, that number rose to 2,197.

The ARRA surveyed the participating school districts asking what the greatest challenges were for them.  Lack of affordable housing topped the chart at 47% and was closely followed by “identification of homeless students” at 44%.  Other challenges include “transportation to school of origin” (32%), “basic needs (clothing, health, etc)” (29%) and “lack of community collaboration” (10%).  The report also shows a breakdown of the increase in homeless students from the year 2006-2008 by state.  Ohio came in at 18% increase during those two years.

For the full report, please visit the NAEHCY website:  http://www.naehcy.org/criticalmoment.htm.

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