Report: More of Washington state’s students are homeless
The number of homeless students in Washington state increased by more than 5 percent last school year, according to a report by The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). In the 2011– 2012 school year, there were 27,390 homeless students in public schools in the state. That’s 1,341 students more than in the 2010-2011 school year, a 5.1 percent increase, and up 46.7 percent from 2007– 2008.
School district officials cite local economic downturns as contributing factors, such as the closing of an Everett paper mill and the decline of the logging industry, as well as budget cuts to social services.
Since 2001, school districts around the nation have collected information on homeless students in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Act, which provides rights and protections to eligible children and youth who lack regular and adequate housing. This could include students who are sharing housing; students living in motels, hotels or cars; or students living in emergency or transitional shelters.
A higher awareness of the McKinney-Vento law among homeless students and their families has led to more precise numbers, district officials say. Also, more students are living on their own.
Although homeless students by law are required to have equal access to education, a lack of stable housing can affect a student’s ability to succeed in the classroom. Health problems and absentee rates are higher among homeless students, and they are also more likely to switch schools, school district officials say.
Washington receives about $950,000 per year under the McKinney-Vento Act for homeless student support. The money is distributed to districts with the greatest levels of need through competitive grants. Schools can then use the money for tuition costs, tutoring, supplies and early childhood education programs.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.