Educating Homeless Children Must Be a Priority

Homeless students often need additional academic support to meet grade-level proficiency requirements.

More than one million students are now enrolled in public schools across the country. The most recent data from the 2010-2011 school year shows that number represents a 13% increase over the past year. That is a statistically significant change in only 12 months. Perhaps more importantly, it is the highest it has ever been. Of course, this does not take into account the number of homeless children who are not attending school.

Nearly 90% of all states reported increases with 15 experiencing at least a 20% increase. Unfortunately, there were five states that experienced 35% to 47% increases in the number of homeless students. A report from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that overall, homeless students enrolled in school increased by nearly 60% since the economic recession of 2008. Of course, this varies greatly from one school district to another and from state to state. Michigan is one of the hardest hit states, with a 315% increase in homeless students from 2008 to 2011.

Educational Outcomes

Children who are homeless face various educational obstacles. As a result, they tend to lack basic skills and be several grade levels behind peers. Absenteeism rates are high for these students because they are often dealing with illnesses and moving around from one shelter or location to another. Access to resources such as computers is severely limited. Without proper educational intervention, homeless children are likely to be homelessness as adults, turn to prostitution to earn money for food, or become pregnant at an early age.

How McKinney-Vento Helps

Because of this federal law, schools are required to designate a staff person to be the homeless student liaison. The liaison is responsible for making assessments and referrals to help homeless children stay in school. Tutoring is an important service the law provides for to help homeless students bridge gaps in their education. Schools refer students to appropriate services and pay for tutoring sessions.

Tutoring for Homeless Students

Tutors can meet with students at homeless shelters when a designated room is available. Public libraries and community centers also provide ideal tutoring locations. A tutoring service that specifically works with homeless students can help bring them up to the same academic level as their peers.

It is expected the number of homeless children will continue to grow. Tutoring can provide a safety net for students who are homeless but want a better future. Talk to your school liaison today if you need help achieving your academic goals.