1.4 million students in the U.S. were considered homeless in 2014. These children need our help. Here are some suggestions on how to help homeless students.
Approximately 1.4 million children in the U.S. were reported as homeless in 2014. That is double the amount of homeless children in 2006-2007. The Great Recession caused unemployment and an increase in homelessness among families. Children became a casualty, experiencing unstable home lives, hunger in school, a lack of resources to complete schoolwork and the social stigma of homelessness.
In order to understand how to help homeless students, first, it is important to share the facts:
Here are the statistics:
“Of the nearly 1.26 million public school students who were homeless during the 2012-2013 school year, about 317,000 were in high school,” according to data released last week from the National Center for Homeless Education. –U.S. News & World Report
“Young people who experience homelessness were 87 percent more likely to stop going to school,” according to the 2014 Don’t Call Them Dropouts report from the America’s Promise Alliance and its Center for Promise at Tufts University. – –U.S. News & World Report
“Ninety percent of homeless families are single-parent families that are typically headed by the mother.” – NASP Resources
“Administrators frequently refer to these older homeless students as unaccompanied youth or, more informally, as ‘couch surfers’ or ‘couch hoppers.’ Unaccompanied youth may have more struggles than homeless students living with their families, and many drop out of high school.” – NASP Resources
Public schools are limited by both resources and the law on what they can provide for homeless students. According to Alexandra Pannoni in US News and World Report, “Public schools are required under federal law (Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act) to ensure homeless students have access to a free public education. Homeless youth are allowed to stay in their school, regardless of where they end up, and schools must provide students transportation to that school…but schools are not required to provide housing.”
Oftentimes, teachers are spending money out of their own pockets to provide needy students with basic items. The problem is so widespread, that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction shares an instructional file to educators on how they can identify and provide care for homeless students.
Some of the suggestions include:
- Provide school supplies and books.
- Allow personal possessions and keep in mind that any possession may be the child’s only one.
- If a new student falls asleep in class, let her/him sleep. It may be needed from living in a car or shelter.
- Show sensitivity when asking children to bring food, photographs, favorite toys, or other items from home. Children who are homeless are often embarrassed to admit that they do not have these things.
- Teachers keep healthy snacks in their classroom in order to provide nourishment for hungry kids. Instructors deal with the effects of children moving from couch to couch, a lack of clean clothes or bathing, and their exhaustion from stress.
This is an epidemic in America. It is a fundamental issue with the education system that will take an effort from the government and citizenry to repair. However, in the meantime, there are ways that we call can help bring some measure of relief to our future productive citizens.
Here’s what you can do to help.
Contribute to your local school’s supply drive. Around America, communities are coming together to help students in need. School supply drives in New Mexico, Virginia and Washington State are being operated to provide homeless students with pens, pencils, clothes, shoes, backpacks, and food.
Donate notebooks, paper, pencils and other items in order to help a homeless student in need.
Start your own collection drive. Communicate with school staff to assess if a need for supplies for students exists and how you can contribute. Coordinate with other like-minded individuals to gather resources.
Get help to those who need it. We are a resource for homeless youth to be able to find the help they need. Other great organizations exist that can provide the assistance that homeless students and their families need.
Become a mentor. Volunteering to spend time with at-risk youth is a rewarding experience for both child and mentor. Your attention and care can help provide a sense of hope and connection in young people that can help them get through the hard times.
Here are some organizations that accept volunteers:
Students that are homeless need our help. A school day is a temporary relief for homeless students, but the challenges they face are extremely difficult. We can help students in need by contributing to good causes, getting involved in our communities and speaking to those who deal with students every day. Please consider helping today.