In rural school districts, student homelessness is growing at nearly 4 times the national rate, up 11% since the 2013-14 school year.
Rising student homelessness is a nationwide crisis, reaching an estimated 1.3 million children in American public schools last year. Policy responses and government resources for homelessness concentrate almost exclusively on cities, suburbs, and towns. This focus stands to overlook the unique resource and funding needs of rural communities, where—new ICPH research shows—student homelessness is growing most rapidly.
Examining data from the U.S. Department of Education, ICPH sought to better understand the scope of rural student homelessness and what its rapid growth means for rural communities around the country. ICPH found an 11% increase in rural student homelessness over just the last four school years, nearly quadruple the 3% national growth rate.
A state-level analysis, detailed in the reports and infographics below, finds that this trend is wide-reaching: rural student homelessness increased in 38 states, and 15 states saw the number of rural homeless students grow even as total rural student enrollment declined. Data also shows that only 42% of rural homeless students attend school in a district with federally allocated funding to support homeless students, compared to 67% of their non-rural peers.
Identifying this trend is only a first step in understanding rural student homelessness. Only by placing more attention on the local dynamics of homelessness can we effectively target solutions to address it. Share your own experiences with student homelessness in rural communities, check back for future updates, and work with ICPH to bring rural homelessness into focus.
Highlighting where and how rural homelessness is growing Read more.
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Related ICPH research & resources:
- The United States of Homelessness: What we know about rising student homelessness
- Bridging the Graduation Gap: Why School Stability is Key for Homeless High School Students
- Out of the Shadows: A State-by-State Ranking of Accountability for Homeless Students
- One Issue, Three Counts, One Reality: How should we count children experiencing homelessness?
- Learn more about ICPH and the work we do.