Daily Video

October 5, 2010

Schools Challenged by Homeless Students

Homeless kids face many challenges, including where to go to school when their family continues to move from place to place. One school in Seattle is trying to address that problem by catering specifically to homeless students and helping them regain their self-confidence.

Teachers say homeless students are often shy and withdrawn because they’re never sure when they might have to move on to another school. Under a federal law called the McKinney-Vento Act, all schools are supposed to provide certain accommodations to homeless students such as enrolling kids without requiring the usual paperwork and providing transportation if they move to another shelter in the area. But, some homeless families still struggle to get their kids the right treatment under the law.

School districts are also supposed to try to identify and accommodate students who may be homeless but haven’t admitted it. But, some statistics show that the Seattle school district intentionally failed to identify many homeless students because it wanted to save money. Similarly, two years ago, in New York State, 37 percent of school districts failed to identify even one student as homeless.


“There’s no other way to see that than that schools are not identifying homeless students within their midst, because identifying a homeless student may bring about a cost to the school district.” – Casey Trupin, attorney

“Without school, I don’t know where I would be. Math equations, two plus two is four, you can never get that wrong. I mean, the liver filters your blood. There’s no wrong in that. But when it comes to home life, it’s very confusing.” – Samantha Williams, homeless student

“I want to stay, like, in one place and be stable. It makes it hard for me to study. Then I lose focus.” – Ian, homeless student

Warm Up Questions

1. What does it mean to be homeless?

2. What does “stability” mean?

3. Why would it be hard to have to switch schools all the time?

Discussion Questions

1. What kinds of things did you need to be able to enroll in school? Why might it be hard for a homeless student to provide those things?

2. Do you know anyone who is homeless? What challenges do they face that people with homes don’t face?

3. Based on what you saw in the video, why might schools be hesitant to identify homeless kids?

Additional Resources

Video Transcript

More Children Becoming Homeless

Young Grads Learn Tough Lessons at Struggling Schools

Hungry in America: New Food Insecurity Numbers Are A Wake Up Call

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