This week the national campaign to address student homelessness, Education Leads Home, announced that six states—California, Kentucky, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington—have been chosen to participate in a first-of-its-kind partnership aimed improving educational outcomes for students who are experiencing homelessness.
Young people who do not graduate from high school are 4.5 times as likely to experience homelessness in their lives—and students who are experiencing homelessness are nearly 90 percent more likely to drop out of school than their peers. Taken together, those facts shine a light on the daunting odds that students experiencing homelessness face, as well as why education is a crucial part of any strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness. Schools are critical points of connection for students and families—connections that we have to utilize to ensure students are getting what they need inside and outside of the classroom.
Education Leads Home’s State Partnerships on Student Homelessness Project will provide funding as well as extensive technical assistance to states to advance measurable progress on selected education goals for homeless students. Governors and Chief State School Officers were required to approve of the proposals, as well as commit to participating in implementation.
We’re excited to see our home state of Washington continuing its commitment to lead the nation in ending student and youth homelessness through this partnership. Here, the campaign will work with Governor Jay Inslee’s office and nonprofit Building Changes to review the state’s early childhood education policies and promote the participation of children experiencing homeless in early learning programs. Given the high number of young parents experiencing homelessness, this approach should positively impact both family and youth homelessness.
In Kentucky, the campaign will work with Governor Matt Bevin’s office to train school districts on how to identify students experiencing homelessness and provide them with trauma-informed care. In California, the campaign will explore strategies for improving early learning participation rates, as well as improving graduation rates and decreasing chronic absenteeism in K12 schools. Nevada will take a similar approach to California with a focus on graduation rates and reducing chronic absenteeism. In Oregon, project leads are aiming to develop host home projects throughout the state to provide stable housing for students experiencing homelessness. (You can learn more about how host homes work here).
And, to ensure long-term sustainability, each state will prioritize improving coordination between schools, health departments, housing and social services provider and early learning programs. As the states begin to make progress on their goals, they will be able to share strategies and best practices with one another that can be implemented in communities and states nationwide.
The State Partnerships on Student Homelessness Project is a fantastic opportunity for these six states to explore promising strategies to prevent student homelessness.