**This is another one of my posts that I completed for a course I am taking. You will see it referes to course materials — but I thought my readers here would also appreciate thinking about homelessness in conjunction with children and education.
When this class started earlier this year, I was struck by an article about homeless students providing challenges for school districts. Despite my experiences as a Magistrate judge here in Virginia, I for some reason do not think about children being homeless. When I think about the homeless population, I see adults as in the photo above. Men and women who for various reasons have found themselves on the streets. They carry backpacks, bags, and trash bags. Sometimes pushing their possessions in a stolen shopping card [and yes as a Magistrate I did have to file a charge for someone stealing a shopping card to push their life in]. I think of a population that deals with squatting in abandoned homes (and then getting arrested for it), sleeping in public parks (and getting harassed for it), and perhaps having substance abuse issues (usually cheep beer or mouthwash — typically not a hard drug).
Yet, I suspect that most people are the same — in forgetting that when you have homeless adults, you may have homeless children. I shelved this article and this post — but piggybacking on my Food Insecurity post, I believe this kind of social change discussion is timely and important. Mainly, I believe this social change discussion is important from the perspective of my field — public administration Since it is localities that ultimately have a lot to do with the state of homelessness or at least the look of it.
What constitutes homelessness generally? The Federal Definition of Homelessness from the Horizons for Homeless Children’s website is: “an individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence; or an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is: (1) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill); (2) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or (3) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (Source: US Department of Housing and Urban Development).”
More specifically, how do we define homelessness within the public school system? According to the College of William and Mary School of Education – Project HOPE Virginia website — Title X, Part C of the No Child Left Behind Act defines homelessness as living in the following places due to a lack of a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
- In an emergency or transitional shelter
- In a motel, hotel, or campground
- In a car, park, public place, bus or train station, or abandoned building
- Doubled up with relatives or friends
- In the above conditions and is a migratory child or youth
- Further descriptions of nighttime residence
This definition of homelessness applies to children and youth with: (1) Uncertain housing; (2) A temporary address; (3) No permanent physical address.Children and youth living in these settings meet criteria for the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness and have special educational rights.
Numbers: The National Center on Family Homelessness reports that “one in 45 children experience homelessness in America each year” which is over 1.6 million children.”
Discussing only one of the Nation’s largest localities — the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City reports that as of January 2013 “each night more than 55,000 people — including more than 21,000 children — experience homelessness.” In New York City currently 50,100 homeless men, women, and children sleep in the NYC municipal shelter system, and additionally more than 5,000 homeless adults and children sleep in other public or private shelters. That still leaves thousands of men, women, and children sleeping on the streets or in other public spaces. Discussing the impact of homelessness on children — the Coalition states “During the course of each year, more than 110,000 different homeless New Yorkers, including more than 40,000 children, sleep at least one night in the municipal shelter system.” and that “The number of homeless New Yorkers in shelters has risen by more than half over the past decade.”
However youth homelessness is not regulated only to Broadway. In Washington, D.C. as of January 2013 there are roughly 600 homeless children living on the streets and in the shelters [Source HERE]. In Peroria County, Illinois “students identified as homeless grew from 183 in 2008 to 683 in 2012, a 273 percent jump over five years, according to Ulrich’s figures. With the 2013 school year not quite over, she already had recorded 693 homeless students, most of them from Peoria School District 150.” [Source HERE] Mary Ellen Ulrich, a homeless liaison at the Peoria County Regional Office of Education states
“Student homelessness is unbelievable. This is my ninth year and the numbers just keep increasing and increasing.”