Homeless Children and Education

By J MONSON

Columnist

Homelessness has a devastating effect on every person that experiences this social stigma. Some of the most vulnerable and helpless people that fall into this category are children under the age of eighteen. Access to quality education as a homeless child becomes increasingly strained the longer the duration of homelessness persists.

One of the major problems that children face as result of a family unit becoming homeless is high mobility rates due to limitation of stay at shelters. According to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, the family and child may have to move to a new school, every time the family unit relocates to a new shelter. Every time a child relocates to a new school it disrupts the their education process. 

The Institute for Children and Poverty estimates that homeless children are four times more likely to drop out of school, nine times more likely to repeat a grade and three times more likely to be placed in special ed program, compared to non-homeless children. 

Other barriers that  homeless children face while trying to acquire an education are transportation problems,  lack of school records, and lack of immunization records. If the child’s parents cannot overcome these obstacles, the child will have problems attending school.The National Center on Family Homelessness states that children that experience prolonged homelessness are four times more likely to show delayed development in their education process.

The US McKinney Act established in 1987 by Congress and reauthorized in 2001, as a part of the No Child Left Behind Act, creates grants which are used to enhance programs to confront the lack of child education among the homeless. These programs  include identification and outreach for homeless families, assistance with transportation and school supplies, and before and after school education programs. Constant funding for this Act and local area funding to shelters will help to battle poor education among homeless children.