16 August, 2016
Homelessness has a adverse effect on a child’s education. Educating homeless youth is thought to be vital in breaking the cycle of poverty. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act mandates equal opportunity to a free public education to homeless students. This act is aims to break down the barriers homeless students have to receiving an education. These barriers include residency restriction, medical record verification, and transportation issues. Once a student surpasses these barriers, they are still subject to the stigma of being homeless, and the humiliation they feel because of their situation. Some families do not report their homelessness, while others are unaware of the opportunities available to them. Many report that maintaining a stable school environment helps the students because it’s the only thing that remains normal. Many homeless students fall behind their peers in school due to behavioral disorders, and lack of attendance in school.
Since the housing market fall out there has been an increase in homeless students. NAEHCY or the National Association for the Education of Homeless for Children and Youth, has reported that there has been a rise in homeless student as much as 99% within a three month period.
Of 1,636 schools, 330 reported no increase, 847 reported an increase of half, and 459 reported an increase of 25% or more. Due to the provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act many school districts are experiencing difficulties providing the essential services, such as rising transportation needs and the greater severity of services.
One of the biggest struggles our district faces is providing transportation to students who are experiencing homelessness. There are few strategies that districts can use to provide transportation for these students. There are cases wherein a small city only has one taxi cab service and no public system and the cab company is small and simply cannot fulfill all the transportation requests. When it is possible, the local officials can add students to existing bus routes or set up a contractual agreement with the student’s parent or guardian. However, there have been many situations where none of these options have worked. Another challenge a district faces is providing proper outer-wear for students who are homeless. For instance, if they live in central Wisconsin and have long, cold winters, all students need proper outerwear to go outside. Proper outerwear includes snow boots, hat, mittens, snow pants, and a winter jacket that has a working zipper or buttons on it. This expense adds up quickly and is hard to provide to the increasing number of homeless students.
Effect of Homelessness in Academics
1) Students are 1.5 times more likely to perform below grade level in reading
2)1.5 times more likely to perform below grade level in spelling
3) 2.5 times more likely to perform below grade level in math.