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- Definition: Number of public school students recorded as being homeless at any point during a school year, by type of nighttime residence (e.g., 8,729 California students were recorded as being homeless and unsheltered at some point during the 2016 school year).Percentage of public school students recorded as being homeless at any point during a school year, by type of nighttime residence (e.g., among California students recorded as being homeless at some point during the 2016 school year, 3.2% were unsheltered).
- Data Source: California Dept. of Education, Coordinated School Health and Safety Office custom tabulation (May 2017).
- Footnote: Years presented are the final year of a school year (e.g., 2015-2016 is shown as 2016). These data may include duplicate counts of homeless students; as homeless students move frequently, it is possible that the same student will be recorded by multiple school districts. Data for 2015 are not available due to changes in reporting. The abbreviation S refers to data that have been suppressed because there were fewer than 80 total homeless students. N/A means that data are not available. Note that percentages for county offices of education are less reliable than percentages for other school districts due to fluctuations in official enrollment.
- Measures of Homelessness on Kidsdata.org
Kidsdata.org presents the number and percentage of public school students recorded as being homeless at any point during a school year, by grade level, and by nighttime residence. The estimated number of homeless public school students in each legislative district also is available. Data on homeless public school students are based on McKinney-Vento Act definitions,* and include students whose nighttime residence is (i) shared housing with others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason, (ii) a hotel or motel, (iii) a temporary shelter, or (iv) unsheltered.
Kidsdata.org also presents the number of unaccompanied children and young adults found to be homeless during the national point-in-time (PIT) count of homeless individuals.†* When analyzing data based on the McKinney-Vento Act definitions, please note:
- Data describe students attending classes and participating fully in school activities.
- Data on nighttime residence represent the most recently reported living situation.
- Data may include duplicate counts of homeless students; as homeless students move frequently, it is possible that the same student will be recorded by multiple school districts.
- It is likely that data underrepresent the extent of homelessness among public school students because of sensitivity around the issue of homelessness. Parents or guardians may not want to report homelessness to school staff, and school staff may have difficulty gathering this information. In addition, youth (particularly those who are older) may not self-identify as homeless for fear of contact with law enforcement or child protective services, and/or fear of reunification with parents or guardians.
† Note that federal agencies, researchers, and advocates agree that the homeless youth population remains largely hidden and undercounted. Continuing to improve the inclusion of youth in PIT counts is a key step in better collecting and applying data on homelessness in the U.S. Please see the summary report, We Count, California!: Lessons Learned from Efforts to Improve Youth Inclusion in California's 2015 Point-in-Time Counts, for more information.
- Family Income and Poverty
- Children in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children Living in Areas of Concentrated Poverty
- Children in Deep Poverty (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Poverty - Supplemental Poverty Measure (California & U.S. Only)
- Poverty Thresholds - California Poverty Measure, by Family Composition and Housing Tenure
- Children in Poverty - California Poverty Measure
- Children in Deep Poverty - California Poverty Measure
- Poverty-Reducing Effects of the Social Safety Net - California Poverty Measure, by Program Type and Poverty Level (California Only)
- Self-Sufficiency Standard, by Family Composition
- Families Living Below Self-Sufficiency Standard
- Children Participating in CalWORKs
- Student Demographics
- Food Security
- Disconnected Youth
- Childhood Adversity and Resilience
- Housing Affordability and Resources
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Why This Topic Is Important
Homelessness causes severe trauma to children and youth, disrupting their relationships, putting their health and safety at risk, and hampering their development (1, 2). Homeless children are more likely than other children to experience hunger and malnutrition, and to develop physical and mental health problems (2). Emotional distress, developmental delays, and decreased academic achievement are also more common among this population (2). Many of these children and youth experience deep poverty, family instability, and exposure to domestic violence before becoming homeless, and homelessness increases their vulnerability to additional trauma (1, 2). In addition to the risks faced by homeless children, including increased vulnerability to sexual exploitation, youth without homes are far more likely than their peers to be infected with HIV and have other serious health problems (2, 3, 4).
During the 2015-16 school year, more than 1.3 million children in the U.S. public school system were homeless, a historic high for the nation (5). California, alone, accounted for approximately one-fifth of all homeless public schools students in the U.S. that year, and has ranked 48th of all 50 states in performance on issues of child homelessness (1, 5).Sources for this narrative:
1. Bassuk, E. L., et al. (2014). America’s youngest outcasts: A report card on child homelessness. National Center on Family Homelessness. Retrieved from: https://www.air.org/resource/americas-youngest-outcasts-report-card-child-homelessness
2. American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Community Pediatrics. (2013). Providing care for children and adolescents facing homelessness and housing insecurity. Pediatrics, 131(6), 1206-1210. Retrieved from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/6/1206
3. Walker, K. (2013). Ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children: A call for multi-system collaboration in California. California Child Welfare Council. Retrieved from: http://youthlaw.org/publication/ending-commercial-sexual-exploitation-of-children-a-call-for-multi-system-collaboration-in-california
4. California Homeless Youth Project. (2014). HIV and youth homelessness: Housing as health care. Retrieved from: http://cahomelessyouth.library.ca.gov/docs/pdf/HIV&YouthHomelessnessFINAL.pdf
5. National Center for Homeless Education. (2017). Federal data summary school years 2013-14 to 2015-16: Education for homeless children and youth. Retrieved from: https://nche.ed.gov/pr/data_comp.php
- How Children Are Faring
In California, 275,448 public school students—4.4% of all enrollees—were recorded as being homeless at some point during the 2015-2016 school year. This number is up from 2010-2011, when 220,708 public school students (3.6%) were reported to be homeless.
More than half of all homeless public school students in California (52.3%) were enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 5 in 2015-2016, while 20.1% were in Grades 6-8 and 27.6% in Grades 9-12. Sharing housing with friends or relatives ('doubling up') was the most common type of nighttime residence among homeless students statewide (85.2%).
During the 2017 homeless point-in-time (PIT) count, 15,458 children and young adults ages 0-24 were found to be homeless and unaccompanied in California, up from 14,161 in 2013. Most of these homeless young people (12,749) were unsheltered, or residing in a place not ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodation. The vast majority of unsheltered children and young adults were transitional age youth ages 18-24 (11,298), but a substantial number of unsheltered unaccompanied minors were identified as well (1,451). Almost two thousand more unsheltered transitional age youth were counted in 2017 than in 2013.
- Policy Implications
Youth and family homelessness are often associated with extreme poverty, lack of access to affordable housing, and domestic violence, among other issues (1). Policies to address homelessness can operate at three levels: (i) preventing families from becoming homeless in the first place, (ii) intervening early during an episode of homelessness and returning families to housing, and (iii) providing permanent supportive housing to end long-term homelessness.
Policy and program options that could address family and youth homelessness include:
For more policy ideas on youth and family homelessness, see kidsdata.org's Research & Links section, the California Homeless Youth Project, the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, or the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Also see Policy Implications under the following topics on kidsdata.org: Family Income and Poverty, Housing Affordability, and Intimate Partner Violence.
- Unifying assessment practices across county and community agencies to identify families at risk for homelessness, providing coordinated housing programs that offer case management and supportive services, offering housing subsidies or cash assistance to help families either stay in their homes or gain stable housing, and facilitating eviction prevention through housing courts and landlord-tenant mediation (1, 2)
- Providing employment and vocational training to parents, along with comprehensive support to the whole family, e.g., children’s services, parenting programs, mental health or substance abuse treatment, domestic violence services, case management, and/or other needed support (1, 3)
- Effectively implementing the education subtitle of the federal McKinney-Vento Act, which requires removing barriers that prevent homeless children from receiving a quality education, such as providing transportation to the child’s school of origin (their ‘home’ school) and waiving documentation requirements for school enrollment (e.g., documentation of immunization, residency, legal guardianship, birth certificates, etc.); also, ensuring adequate school staffing and training to comply with the law (3, 4)
- Explicitly addressing the needs of homeless students in Local Control and Accountability Plans, which determine public school activities to support disadvantaged students (4)
- Combating homelessness among unaccompanied youth by providing individualized service planning, ongoing support services, independent living skills training, connections to trustworthy and supportive adults and networks, and employment and education support (3, 5)
- Providing support to homeless youth to safeguard against, and eliminate, the sexual exploitation of youth, to which homeless youth are particularly vulnerable (6)
Sources for this narrative:
1. U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. (2010). Homelessness among families with children. Retrieved from: http://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/BkgrdPap_FamiliesWithChildren.pdf
2. Corporation for Supportive Housing. (2011). Approaches for ending chronic homelessness in California through a coordinated supportive housing program. Retrieved from: http://www.csh.org/resources/approaches-for-ending-chronic-homelessness-in-california-through-a-coordinated-supportive-housing-program
3. Hyatt, S. (2013). More than a roof: How California can end youth homelessness. California Homeless Youth Project. Retrieved from: http://cahomelessyouth.library.ca.gov/docs/pdf/More-Than-a-Roof-FINAL.pdf
4. Hyatt, S., et al. (2014). California’s homeless students: A growing population. California Homeless Youth Project. Retrieved from: http://cahomelessyouth.library.ca.gov/docs/pdf/CaliforniasHomelessStudents_AGrowingPopulation.pdf
5. U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. (2015). Opening doors: Federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. Retrieved from: https://www.usich.gov/opening-doors
6. Walker, K. (2013). Ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children: A call for multi-system collaboration in California. California Child Welfare Council. Retrieved from: http://youthlaw.org/publication/ending-commercial-sexual-exploitation-of-children-a-call-for-multi-system-collaboration-in-california
- Websites with Related Information
- California Coalition for Youth
- California Homeless Youth Project. California State Library.
- EdSource: Homeless Youth
- Housing California
- National Alliance to End Homelessness
- National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
- National Center for Homeless Education
- National Center on Family Homelessness. American Institutes for Research.
- National Homelessness Law Center
- National Network for Youth
- SchoolHouse Connection
- True Colors United
- U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
- Voices of Youth Count. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
- Key Reports and Research
- State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition. (2020). National Alliance to End Homelessness.
- California’s Homelessness Crisis – and Possible Solutions – Explained. (2020). CalMatters. Levin, M., & Botts, J.
- California’s Road Map: Preventing and Ending Youth Homelessness. (2018). California Coalition for Youth.
- California's Future. (2020). Public Policy Institute of California.
- Early Care and Education for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness. (2018). National Center for Homeless Education. Moore, J.
- Family First Prevention Services Act: Implications for Addressing Youth Homelessness. (2019). National Network for Youth & ChildFocus. Bardine, D., et al.
- Federal Data Summary School Years 2015-16 to 2017-18: Education for Homeless Children and Youth. (2020). National Center for Homeless Education.
- LGBT People and Housing Affordability, Discrimination, and Homelessness. (2020). Williams Institute. Romero, A. P., et al.
- Missed Opportunities: Evidence on Interventions for Addressing Youth Homelessness. (2019). Voices of Youth Count. Morton, M. H., et al.
- Providing Care for Children and Adolescents Facing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity. (2017). Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Community Pediatrics.
- Pushing Back Against School Pushout: Student Homelessness and Opportunities for Change. (2018). California Homeless Youth Project. Herr, E., et al.
- Responding to Youth Homelessness: A Key Strategy for Preventing Human Trafficking. (2018). National Network for Youth. Pilnik, L.
- Stabilizing Families in Supportive Housing. (2019). Urban Institute. McDaniel, M., et al.
- State Laws to Support Youth Experiencing Homelessness. (2019). SchoolHouse Connection.
- Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness: Perspectives from California’s Community Colleges. (2019). California Homeless Youth Project & ACLU Foundations of California. Hyatt, S., et al.
- Timing and Duration of Pre- and Postnatal Homelessness and the Health of Young Children. (2018). Pediatrics. Sandel, M., et al.
- County/Regional Reports
- Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County. Orange County Children's Partnership.
- Community Health Improvement Plan for Los Angeles County 2015-2020. Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health.
- Final Report and Recommendations on Homelessness in Alameda County, California. (2018). Urban Institute. Brown, S., et al.
- Homeless Census and Surveys. Applied Survey Research.
- Live Well San Diego Report Card on Children, Families, and Community, 2019. (2020). San Diego Children’s Initiative. McBrayer, S. L., et al.
- More Data Sources For Homelessness
- Annual Homeless Assessment Reports (AHAR) U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
- California School Dashboard. California Dept. of Education.
- Child Trends Databank: Homeless Children and Youth
- National Center for Homeless Education: Data and Statistics on Homelessness
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