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What happens to students experiencing homelessness?
Federal law requires that public schools assist to help break what could become an inescapable cycle of hardship. But many of the students who need that aid fall through the cracks.
Read our investigation
Thousands of schools are failing to identify and help homeless students, despite a federal mandate to do so. Read the story.
The Center for Public Integrity joined forces with newsrooms around the country to shine a light on this often-forgotten group of children and the misunderstood rights they have in school.
Our partners reported on the issue from California to Washington, D.C., and many places in between.
STORIES FROM OUR PARTNERS
Students Experiencing Homelessness Are Supposed to Get Extra Help. Here’s How California Can Do Better.
Some schools don’t do enough because staff are stretched thin, lack funding or aren’t aware that homeless students are entitled to resources. That’s likely worsening academic achievement gaps between racial and socioeconomic groups, experts said, but there are actions that would help. From California Health Report.
Is this Jackson County district neglecting its mandate to help homeless students stay in school?
School districts are required by law to help homeless children stay in school. Most Kansas City-area districts take that role seriously, but one may be undercounting its unhoused kids and failing to provide them critical services. From KCUR.
One WA school district helped homeless students graduate. Can others?
At North Thurston Public Schools in Washington state, the 661 students who are sleeping on friends’ couches, in vehicles, in shelters or in tents — with or without their families — are graduating at nearly the same rates as their peers. The district has shown that this feat just requires dedicated and consistent support. From The Seattle Times.
D.C. gets federal funds to help homeless students. But many schools in need are shortchanged
The federal government provides states, including D.C., with funding to support equal access to public education for homeless children and their families. But D.C. school systems with the highest percentage of homeless students didn’t get any of the money in two recent years. From DCist/WAMU and Street Sense Media.
State coordinator says New Mexico likely undercounts homeless students
School districts across New Mexico are likely failing to accurately count the number of students experiencing homelessness, according to the state’s coordinator for the state’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program. That failure means vulnerable children probably are missing out on crucial services and being denied educational rights they’re entitled to. From New Mexico In Depth.
Student homelessness grows in Madison
The percentage of students at the Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin who are experiencing homelessness rose in the 2019-20 school year. Some advocates are sure there are more than the number identified, given the prevalence of what’s known as “doubled-up homelessness.” That means one family, not listed on a lease or mortgage, is living with another in a space that isn’t large enough for both of them. From The Cap Times.
Dozens Of Oregon School Districts Likely Undercounting Homeless Students
Federal law requires every district across the country to provide students experiencing homelessness full access to school and extracurriculars. But first, those students need to be identified — and at least 16 Oregon school districts with more than 20 students enrolled failed to identify a single homeless student during the 2019-20 school year. From InvestigateWest.
WA has high number of homeless students, gets lowest federal funding
Washington state excels at identifying its homeless students, a crucial first step to providing federally required assistance. But the way the federal government hands out funds to serve those students inadvertently penalizes good identification. Washington received less money per homeless student than any other state in 2018-19. From The Seattle Times.
Housing one of biggest predictors of getting kicked out of WA schools
Homeless students in Washington state face the most severe punishments from school — suspension and expulsion — at almost three times the rate of their housed peers. A child’s housing status is an even greater predictor of discipline than race. Almost nothing done has been done about that at a state level, even as education officials say they are well aware of the gap. From The Seattle Times.
Kansas City, Kansas, schools found a creative way to cut student homelessness in half
The Kansas City, Kansas, public school district is recognized locally and nationally for its effective approach to pulling families out of homelessness. Since it launched in 2015, the Impact KCK program has found permanent housing for more than 500 families and helped 449 families find employment. Here’s how they did it and what other districts are trying. From KCUR.
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