On Monday, November 4, Chapin Hall released its ninth report, Missed Opportunities: Education Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness in America, addressing youth homelessness and highlights the intersection with educational outcomes.

Findings indicate that 4.2 million young people who experience homelessness and housing instability each year are less likely to stay in school or enroll in college. Thirty-four percent of youth (18 to 25 year-olds) surveyed indicated that they did not have a high school diploma or GED and forty-eight percent of youth (16 to 24 year-olds) revealed that they were neither in school or working.

The Voices of Youth Count (VoYC) national survey indicated that family instability contributes to a youth’s experiences of homelessness and educational disconnection. Seventy-three percent of youth respondents reported that they experienced homelessness in childhood or early adolescence. A youth’s experiences of family trauma and instability can contribute to school disengagement and other long-term consequences with educational attainment.

Not completing high school is the greatest single risk factor associated with homelessness for a young adult, according to the VoYC national survey. Findings indicated that youth without a high school degree or GED are 4.5 times more likely to experience homelessness compared to those with at least a high school diploma within the prior year. Additionally, 49 percent of youth who are enrolled in college reported that they experienced housing insecurity and 16 percent experienced homelessness.

Systemic solutions needed to address both educational attainment and youth’s homelessness include stable housing, educational success, income support and other safety net programs. Identification of youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness is critical to getting the services and support they need to pursue their education. Youth who continue their education despite their circumstances can succeed in the workforce and achieve economic stability. The survey authors conclude that local, state, federal governments, and the economy benefit when young people have stable homes and endless opportunities to thrive.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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