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Effects Of Homelessness On Children And Their Educational Success

1124 words - 4 pages

Homeless families with children represent the fastest growing section of the homeless population today. In fact, they constitute about 40 percent of all people who are homeless (Stronge & Popp, 1999) and studies show up to 2 million people under age eighteen are homelessness each year (Nieves, 2008). It is crucial that homeless children attend school and get an education, even if the odds are against them, so their chances of being homelessness as adults are decreased. The U.S. government relies on the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to help these homeless students, but studies indicate that the immense pressures these students face outside of school still have profound negative effects on their academic success.The US Department of Education (2004) defines homeless children as "those who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence" (p.2), but it also recognizes a wide range of living situations such as frequent mobility or living in shared housing (often a crowded residence with several other families), motels, cars, parks, makeshift housing, or shelters (US Department of Education, 2004, p.2) Homeless students come from every race and cultural background, but a staggering ninety percent of homeless families are single-parent, headed by women (Mizerek & Hinz, 2004). Recently, as foreclosures and layoffs force families out of their homes, school districts across the nation are struggling to deal with a large increase in homeless students. Some school districts report increases of 50 to 100% or more, and an estimated 2 million children are at risk of homelessness because of the foreclosure crisis and recession (Nieves, 2008). Many people are forced to turn to the government for assistance in these situations.The United States government currently addresses the needs of homeless students through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, signed into law in 1987. This federal law entitles homeless children to a "free and appropriate education" and states that schools must eliminate barriers to enrollment, attendance, and success in school for homeless students (Mizerek & Hinz, 2004). In December 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act and US Department of Education updated McKinney-Vento to "require school districts to keep homeless students in their schools of origin and, to the extent possible, provide transportation to and from school" (US Department of Education, 2004, p.2) The act also makes homeless students immediately eligible for free school meals and guarantees that their access to educational services is comparable to any other student in the district (US Department of Education, 2004).Homeless children often are not getting their basic needs met, which causes a negative effect on their education. Many students frequently do not get enough to eat and come to school hungry. They also may not be able to get enough sleep at night, or could be afraid to sleep depending on their current living situation (Mizerek...

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