Dropout Nation: Homeless Children’s Lives Matter
“Just 77 percent of homeless children were regularly enrolled in school. Even when they can register for school, showing up can be an arduous task. Thirty-six percent of homeless children attending New York City’s public schools were chronically absent (or missing more than 18 days of the school year) in 2013-2014, according to a study by the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness.”
School absences are pervasive across New York City. Almost one in five New York City public school elementary students (19%) were chronically absent in SY 2013-14, missing 20 days or more of school. Worse, homeless elementary students were chronically absent at roughly twice the rate of elementary students overall. This report examines the disparities in absenteeism and its impact on educational achievement, comparing homeless students and their housed peers, regardless of family income level.
A new policy report examines when the special education needs of homeless students in New York City are most often identified, the impact of that timing on educational and behavioral outcomes, and the role that school stability plays in timely identification. Meeting the special education needs of homeless students as early as possible ensures this already marginalized group of children does not needlessly fall behind in school.
In New York City, more and more children are facing the most extreme form of instability and poverty—homelessness. The new report provides a detailed picture of homelessness within the city's educational system: where homeless students go to school, what kinds of support they may need, what their academic outcomes look like, and what the lasting impacts of homelessness are educationally—even after a student's housing instability has ended.