On Wednesday, January 29, the National Center for Homeless Education, which is funded by the Department of Education, released the federal education data showing the highest number ever of 1.5 million public school children and youth experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year. This is an 11 percent increase from the previous school year and the highest number ever recorded nationally.
The report shows that the number of identified, enrolled students reported as experiencing homelessness at some point during the last three school years increased 15 percent, from 1,307,656 students in School Year (SY) 2015-16 to 1,508,265 students in SY 2017-18.
Findings indicated the following points:
• The biggest increase of the number of homeless students lived in unsheltered situations (cars, parks, streets, etc.) more than doubled between 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 (104% percent).
• The number of homeless students staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing decreased by 2%.
• The number of homeless students staying in motels increased by 17%.
• The number staying with other people temporarily increased by 9% due to lack of alternatives.
Public schools play a critical role in identifying and providing supports and services to children and youth experiencing homelessness, including the education that is necessary to avoid homelessness as adults. “Public schools are the best—and often only—source of support for children and youth experiencing homelessness,” stated Barbara Duffield, Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection.
Congress is considering the Homeless Children and Youth Act, HR 2001, which would provide coordination and agreement between the U.S. Department of Education definition of homelessness and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determination of eligibility for assistance.