By LaFlanicea Branch, AmeriCorps State & National Member
Educational strategies are useful for supporting individuals experiencing homelessness and offer positive benefits for both children and their families. Struggles among each individual are not always easy to identify, especially with poverty or traumatic situations. Educational resources are important with designated plans to foster the needs of the students, as well as their parents, experiencing homelessness. The lack of education makes it hard to break the cycle and prevent homelessness in many cities across the country. The McKinney-Vento Act of 1987 protects the students rights for quality education and to inform the parents of state regulated requirements.
Students could possibly struggle with different types of problems due to homelessness, such as their academics, unstable living situation, poor communication skills or sense of belonging. Oftentimes, the students’ homelessness issues are not a major “focus” providing the indicated problem, in which needs addressing is housing. The McKinney Vento Act reinforced residency laws, transportation services, enrollment and placement issues, ensuring the students are not distracted from their academics. In the article, “The Impact of Homelessness on Education'' written by Noelle Withers, published in Volunteers of America, Greater New York, states “Children experiencing homelessness lack the stability and support necessary to succeed academically.” Educational programs provide safe and secure environments for students experiencing homelessness to improve communication skills and receive academic support. Tutoring sessions, after-school STEAM activities and group discussions are facilitated by retired teachers, college students and other professionals to students and families experiencing homelessness. Withers states, “In addition to academic impacts, disruption to a child’s education threatens their social and emotional development.” These factors make it harder on the students to feel accomplished in their educational success.
The partnership between the education system and homelessness organizations positively impacted the students everyday activities, which would potentially have an overall benefit. Public schools, community centers and shelters organize programs for students to continuously build and grow social and emotional development skills. Literacy based programs assist homeless families with the opportunity to voice their opinion, allowing them to address issues and concerns with educated, supportive staff. Decreasing the homelessness issues across the country will continue to change, yet the Department of Housing and Urban Development are working on addressing the issue.
Private donations fund communities and shelters with high quality recreation, family events, parent workshops and field trips. Families experiencing homelessness issues can attempt to tackle the battle with education, support, and ongoing participation. Available resource centers for housing, employment services, school placement, local benefits, and childcare and safety are offered to homeless families. Parents are encouraged to partner with organizations in the community that respond to issues surrounding homelessness, prevention, intervention and ending homelessness.
The Impact of Homelessness on Education | Volunteers of America. Volunteers of America: Greater New York. https://www.voa-gny.org/impact-of-homelessness-on-education
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). (2018, May 3). Article headline. United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). https://www.usich.gov/news/strengthening-partnerships-between-education-and-homelessness-services/
Sosin, C. (2022, November 19). Homelessness, Lack of Education Reinforce Each Other, Chapin Hall Report Says. Youth Today. https://youthtoday.org/2019/11/homelessness-lack-of-education-reinforce-each-other-chapin-hall-report-says/
Educating Homeless Children by Leah Davies, M.Ed. https://www.kellybear.com/teacherarticles/teachertip55.html