For this story, NPR spoke with students, parents, caregivers, shelter managers and school leaders across the country about what it means, in this moment, to be homeless and schoolless.
Remote learning can be difficult for children without an adult at home to supervise everything from logging on to the learning itself. The past six months have put all parents and caregivers in a bind, but many families who are homeless now find themselves in an impossible situation.
“How do you choose between working and providing for your family, and your child’s education? I mean, what is your priority?” says Patricia Rivera, a former Chicago Public Schools social worker and founder of Chicago HOPES For Kids, an afterschool program for homeless youth.
Rivera points out that many homeless shelters don’t allow parents to leave their children while they go to work. In the past, kids have simply gone to school or parents have found low-cost childcare. But, because of the pandemic, those options have disappeared for many families.
Parents and caregivers experiencing homelessness are also more likely to work low-wage jobs that cannot be done remotely and that offer little schedule flexibility.
Even if they don’t need adult supervision, every student trying to learn remotely must have access to a computer and the Internet. While many districts have provided the former, several families experiencing homelessness tell NPR they still struggle to get online.
Even in districts that are handing out Internet hotspots, families experiencing homelessness may not know about the giveaways because they’ve moved, often farther from a school, as they search for stable housing, and may not have reliable access to email or a phone.
Read the full article about homeless children in distance learning by Cory Turner at NPR.
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