Navigating school isn’t easy for many kids. Juggling classes, friends and extracurricular activities can be a challenge even in the best of circumstances. But it’s especially hard for kids who are experiencing homelessness.
About 1.5 million public school students were homeless during the 2017-2018 school year. That’s the most in more than a decade, according to a new report from the National Center for Homeless Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The U.S. Department of Education helped fund the study.
Christina Endres is a program specialist at the center who worked on the report, and says the report defined “homeless” students as kids who lived in shelters, cars or even with a relative or friend because their family lost housing because of economic hardship.
Unlike annual point-in-time counts of people experiencing homelessness, Endres says the student homelessness report was cumulative.
“Ours looks at the whole school year – how many kids over the entire school year experienced homelessness,” she says.
Homelessness is a problem in all kinds of communities. But there are resources to help. Endres says every school district has a homeless liaison to support students experiencing hardship.
In Texas, Endres says the number of homeless students has gone up to about 230,000.
Community organizations are important to helping support homeless students and pulling them out of crisis. These groups often partner with schools to make sure students are fed regularly, but they can also get them housing.
Written by Caroline Covington.