By Tara Turrentine, Homeless Youth Coordinator
El Dorado County Office of Education
El Dorado County Child Support Services has selected Homeless Children Matter as the beneficiary of fundraising efforts for the next annual CSDA training conference in May 2018.
You were briefly introduced to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act in the September One Voice Newsletter. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth program provides children experiencing homelessness with protections and services to ensure they can enroll in and attend school, complete their high school education, and continue on to higher education—their best hope of avoiding poverty and homelessness as adults. The “Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015,” (ESSA), strengthens and improves these programs and the education of over 1.3 million children and youth experiencing homelessness, from early childhood through high school graduation. Mandated by the McKinney-Vento Act, every school district nationwide is required to have a liaison to identify and serve children experiencing homelessness.
Given the number of children and families displaced by recent fires in California, many children will enroll under McKinney-Vento allowing a shorter interruption to their school attendance. As the Homeless Youth Coordinator at the El Dorado County Office of Education, my first call this morning asked me to clarify the law with a local school enrolling a child displaced by the recent hurricane in Texas.
In addition to times of natural disaster, the McKinney-Vento Act supports children who have unstable housing to stay connected to school, and statistics on the national, state, and local levels continue to show the need for these services and how that need continues to grow:
The number of children identified as homeless in the United States has increased over 100% since 2006, going from approximately 600,000 to 1.3 million by 2016.
California identified 275,000 children as McKinney-Vento in 2015–2016. Just over 21% of the Nation’s children identified as McKinney-Vento were enrolled in California schools. To understand this impact in California, according to the California Association of Realtors, there are 40 million residents in California and currently enough housing for 25 million.
As an example from my community, El Dorado County identified 959 children experiencing homelessness during the 2017–2018 school year. This number represents about 3.5% of our county’s enrolled children. We have seen a 26% increase in children experiencing homelessness in the last 4 years. According to a San Francisco article, since January 2015 median housing prices in El Dorado County have shot up 37% and median rental rates have increased 88%.
Homelessness is a growing complex issue nationwide, and as high as the statistics are regarding homeless children, these numbers under-count the actual number of homeless youth, considering that this count only scans public schools. Not reported in these statistics: children or youth not enrolled in school, school-aged children and youth who experience homelessness during the summer only, those who drop out of school, or young children not enrolled in preschool or kindergarten programs.
I am grateful for the partnership with the El Dorado Community Foundation and El Dorado County Child Support Services for the creation of the Homeless Children Matter Fund to be selected as the CSDA charity. Special thank you to Don Semon, Director of El Dorado County Child Support Services, for his vision and this opportunity to provide awareness and support for children experiencing homelessness.
For more information or to arrange a donation, please contact Ginger Harms at 530-642-7238 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch for future articles on the Homeless Children Matter Charity
January 2018—Case study/complexities of the issue
March 2018—How LCSAs can help