Educational needs of homeless Pa. kids targeted

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Homeless children may face multiple moves, including staying in shelters, doubling up with relatives or friends or sleeping in motels, cars or campgrounds, the report said. They are more likely to be placed in special education programs, to lag behind their peers and to be required to repeat a grade. They are less likely to graduate from high school in four years.

For children experiencing the instability caused by multiple moves, the report said “education can be the stabilizing aspect in many children’s lives.”

Another recommendation of the task force is to develop a statewide identification strategy to locate children experiencing homelessness and to make sure they are enrolled in supportive programs and services.

In the previous three years, the number of homeless children reported by schools in Pennsylvania was 18,621 in 2010-11; 18,231 in 2012-13; and 19,459 in 2012-13. Of those reported in 2012-13, 50 percent had living arrangements that involved doubling up with others, 31 percent lived in shelters, transitional housing or were awaiting foster care placement, 6 percent were staying in hotels; 2 percent were unknown and 1 percent were living without shelter.

But the report warns there are likely others not counted because they are not living in shelters or receiving services.

The racial breakdown of the 19,459 homeless children reported in 2012-13 was 70 percent white, 15 percent African-American, 9 percent Hispanic and 6 percent other.

As part of its study, the task force through the state Department of Education conducted a survey of parents of 643 homeless families. The surveys were distributed through schools and intermediate units.

The results of that survey group showed 53 percent of the parents were between the ages of 18-34, 91 percent were female, 50 percent had never been married, 40 percent where white, while 38 percent were black and 50 percent were living doubled up with family or friends. Of those who responded, 43 percent had moved once in the past year and 27 percent moved two to four times in the past year.

“I can only hope that this report is reviewed by the legislative body and that the talk continues and that some of the recommendations are implemented,” Anderson said.

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Online:

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Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, http://www.post-gazette.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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