This weekend, ICPH is headed to Chicago for the 29th Annual National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) Conference. There, we will join others from across the country who work to support the educational equity of children and youth experiencing homelessness.
We at ICPH believe that a stable education is key to reducing the impact of homelessness on children. That’s why we are proud to present four different sessions over the next few days, each delving into the unique challenges faced by this vulnerable population, as well as various ways to support them.
“These days, with rent prices and housing instability on the rise nationwide, it’s more important than ever that all members of our communities are aware of just how common homelessness is, especially among young children and teens—and the impact this has on their development and futures,” says Principal Policy Analyst Anna Shaw-Amoah. Her presentation will focus on the use of data as the first step to raising awareness about the impacts of homelessness.
According to Policy Analyst Rachel Barth, those impacts can be dire. “Homeless students are vulnerable in many ways beyond not having a place to sleep, and are more likely to have unaddressed physical and mental health needs, to use drugs and alcohol, and to be in unsafe situations.” It’s important to not only keep these risk factors in mind when developing supports for homeless students, but to consider the role that housing status plays when addressing issues such as mental health, substance abuse, and food insecurity.
Luckily, supports do exist for homeless students, especially when it comes to ensuring equal access to education. While distinguishing students who are homeless and therefore entitled to these supports can oftentimes be difficult, many states are doing an excellent job. In their presentation, Policy Analysts Chloe Stein and Amanda Ragnauth will highlight the states that were most successful in identifying homeless students, and share best practices that professionals working directly with these vulnerable students can bring back to their home states.
Among these best practices is working together with other stakeholders—a critical component of success. “It was fascinating to see how highly-ranked states, in their plans to identify and combat child homelessness, developed collaborative groups from across government departments,” explains Chloe. “From representation of agency commissioners to non-profit directors to members of the public, these groups are a testament to the multifaceted nature of homelessness and the importance of partnership.”
“I was really interested in the different ways that states deal with their unique challenges in identifying and serving homeless students,” adds Amanda. “For instance, Alaska has a very dispersed population and has to distribute funds to schools that only serve a dozen students, while Kentucky has had to deal with the opioid crisis’ impact on thousands of children.”
The city of Seattle also faces challenges of its own. One out of every 16 children experienced homelessness in Seattle during the 2015–16 school year. In his session, Principal Policy Analyst Josef Kannegaard will use data from Seattle about the academic impact of homelessness to show how local data can be translated into action.
“Meaningful partnerships and data analysis can serve as a starting point for deeper conversations and actions,” explains Josef. “By mapping student homelessness we can demonstrate where educators and policymakers can direct assistance.”
Each of these presentations offers attendees a plethora of ideas, strategies, and data about a range of topics relating to homeless students. Find answers to questions like “Who is most at risk of homelessness? How does homelessness impact a child’s future? How does homelessness impact mental health? Why do homeless students face heightened educational risks? How can we better identify and support homeless students?”
Homelessness affects students in every city and state across the country. Only when we understand the numbers and the stories behind them, can we truly develop solutions to family homelessness. If you’re in Chicago this weekend, come to one of our sessions or stop by and see me at our exhibit table outside of the ballroom.
Sunday, October 29, 2017 – 3:45 – 5:00 p.m.
More Than a Place to Sleep: Understanding the Health and Well-Being of Homeless High School Students
Room: Columbus GH
Rachel Barth, Policy Analyst
Monday, October 30, 2017 – 10:15 – 11:30 a.m.
Mapping A Path Forward: How district data and geographic analysis can create locally-informed insights into the impact of homelessness on students
Room: Michigan 3
Josef Kannegaard, Principal Policy Analyst
Monday, October 30, 2017 – 3:30 – 4:45 p.m.
Let the Numbers Speak for Themselves: Using Local Data to Raise Awareness of the Impact of Homelessness on Children in Your Community
Room: Roosevelt 3A
Anna Shaw-Amoah, Senior Policy Analyst
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 – 10:15 – 11:30 a.m.
Identifying strategies for enrolling and serving homeless children: Lessons to be learned from successful state-level reforms
Room: Roosevelt 3B
Amanda Ragnauth & Chloe Stein, Policy Analysts