New data confirms that a record-breaking number of students experienced homelessness during the 2016-17 school year. The number of students who experience homelessness each year has been steadily ticking upward for more than a decade, topping out at more than 1.3 million in 2017.

Unfortunately, as the national student homelessness strategy, Education Leads Home, notes, it’s likely that these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Most schools are ill-equipped to identify students who are experiencing homelessness, let alone connect them with housing, transportation and family support.

Trouble identifying and supporting homeless students leads hugely negative impacts on those students’ ability to learn and progress academically. Nationwide the graduation rates for all high schoolers is close to 84 percent, but just 64 percent of students who experience homelessness graduate on time. It’s important to underscore that youth who experience homelessness gradate at far lower rates than low-income students. The effects of homelessness, the trauma, instability and chronic stress, impact youth above and beyond poverty, making early detection and targeted support all the more urgent and necessary.

Our schools’ struggles to support students experiencing homelessness also compounds the students’ risk for homelessness as young adults. We know that young people who do not receive their diplomas are 4.5 times as likely to experience homelessness as young adults. In fact, lack of a high school degree is the biggest risk factor for experiencing homelessness as a young adult, underscoring just how important raising graduation rates for homeless students is if we’re going to break the cycle of homelessness.

Read the full article about education and youth homelessness at Raikes Foundation.