LANSING, MICH. (WLNS) — More than 1.5 million public school children in the U.S. experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year. That’s the highest number to be recorded in more than a decade and Michigan is working to tackle the problem in the state.
This information was recorded in a new report released last month by the National Center for Homeless Education. It covers three school years and the number of students facing homelessness in our state has decreased over that time.
“Over the last 10 to 15 years we’ve really had some concerted efforts around make sure that our population of students that were experiencing homelessness were being identified,” said Michigan Department of Education Special Populations Unit Manager Michelle Williams.
From the 2015-2016 school year more than 39,000 students were homelessness, but in the 2017-2018 school year there were about 35,000 homeless students in the state.
“And that’s what we’re seeing in our preliminary numbers for 2018-19 as well,” said Williams.
Only five states, including Michigan, experienced a 10% or more decrease to it’s homeless student population in this report.
Throughout Michigan there are homeless liaisons for public school districts and they receive state training to make sure that they have the knowledge in order to accurately identify students experiencing homelessness.
Homeless education consultant Sara Orris said, “Really the intent is to keep kids stable in school and keep them moving forward and on a path of academic success.”
Homelessness in this report means that the student shared housing with others, lived in shelters, hotels, motels or was unsheltered. Their goal is to break down barriers to better the student and their family, but it’s not easy to account for everyone.
“Sometimes it’s a bit more difficult because they may be doubled up for economic reasons or staying with other family or they may not view their situation as homeless even though it is a qualifying situation under federal law,” Williams.