Giving Compass' Take:

• The National Center for Homeless Education, along with other organizations, reports that student homelessness is increasing throughout school districts in the U.S.

•  What role can donors play in helping decrease the number of homeless students? 

• Check out the Giving Compass Homelessness Guide for donors. 

During the 2016-17 academic year, 1,355,821 public school students – the highest number ever recorded and an increase of 70% over the past 10 years – experienced homelessness, according to federal data released last week. Additionally, between the 2014-15 and 2016-17 school years, 20 states saw a homeless student population growth of 10% or more, the National Center for Homeless Education reports.

Information from 44 states revealed that the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rates for homeless students ranged between 45% and 88% during the 2016-17 school year, compared to a national average of 64%.

Using its 26 State Homeless Student Snapshots, the Education Leads Home campaign – which aims to reach a 90% high school graduation rate for homeless students by 2030 – reports that the number of U.S. students who identify as homeless has nearly doubled since the 2007-08 year.

Though the number of homeless students continues to grow, these numbers only provide a snapshot of the severity of the problem. Student or parental embarrassment or fear of being placed in foster care or jail, for instance, can skew these numbers.

In a 2016 report published by nonprofit America’s Promise Alliance, the authors stated, “As high as these numbers seem, they are almost certainly undercounts. School leaders need to work to identify the full scope of affected students to accurately report the problem and address it on a student-by-student basis. With new ESSA regulations in place, more attention is being paid to the plight of homeless students, and along with increased accountability, new ways to help these students are showing up.

Federal programs under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – including Head Start and Child Care and Development Fund – as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's homeless assistant programs are some places educators and administrators can start in assisting their students in need.

Read the full article about student homelessness by Amelia Harper at Education Dive