Finishing high school can be an uphill battle; for homeless students, it can be like facing a mountain of challenges. David Nazar of PBS SoCal reports on efforts to help L.A.’s homeless youth reach graduation.
WASHINGTON — The number of homeless school children is rising in U.S. schools.
Education Department statistics released Monday say 1.3 million homeless children were enrolled in U.S. schools in the 2012-2013 school year — an 8 percent increase from the previous school year.
A vast majority of the homeless children were living in “doubled-up” quarters, meaning multiple families were living together not by choice. About 70,000 were identified as living in a hotel or motel.
In addition, school districts reported that nearly 76,000 of these students were living on their own, such as runaways.
Children’s advocates say the numbers reflect why a greater emphasis is needed on expanding support for homeless families — not just those living in homeless shelters.
“While the economy may be coming back some, people are still having a hard time making enough money to afford and find affordable housing,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the nonprofit First Focus Campaign for Children.
The statistics likely underestimate the true number of homeless kids. They don’t include homeless infants, toddlers, young children not enrolled in public preschool programs or homeless children not identified by schools officials.