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Educating the homeless child

1 December 1995


Abstract The fastest growing subgroup of the homeless population is the homeless family. Of that subgroup, as many as 500,000-700,000 are school-aged children. The phenomenon of homeless children is creating a unique situation in terms of the necessity to meet the needs of young people. I researched what school systems around the country are doing to help these at risk young people. In addition, I reviewed what was being done in one Oregon school. A number of school programs around the country were effectively working to deal with this dilemma. In particular, one school in Oregon was outstanding in its overall approach to dealing with the unique needs of these young people. The efforts of the administration and staff provide an outstanding example of what can be done to make a positive difference for these youngsters. In the schools I evaluated there were common themes stressed in order to provide a level of stability for the homeless child in the classroom setting. The following is a representative listing of these priorities: 1. Provide a consistent structure and stability in the classroom. 2. Identify a homeless advocate / liaison within the individual school. 3. Solicit the involvement of community support groups and local businesses. 4. Provide after-school study programs with supplies for students to use in completing homework and for providing volunteer extra study help. 5. Maintain close contact with the homeless shelters in the school district. This study provides examples of how schools throughout the United States are coping with the problem of the school-age homeless. The school setting is the best opportunity for stability available to these homeless boys and girls. There is an urgent need to reach out and help these young people and the schools of America must meet that need.


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