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The ‘unfortunate bystanders’ in homelessness are Iowa’s children

THE GAZETTE | To fully understand the situation, let’s look at some numbers.

— Over the past five years, no fewer than 6,700 homeless children and teenagers have walked the halls of Iowa’s public schools.

— That number peaked during the 2011-12 school year, with the Iowa Department of Education reporting more than 7,450 homeless students, while there were nearly 7,000 homeless students in Iowa in the 2015-16 year, according to five years of Department of Education data obtained by The Gazette.

— Throughout 2015, about 12,900 homeless individuals were served by Iowa agencies, according to Iowa’s Institute for Community Alliances. They were served in emergency shelters, transitional housing, rapid rehousing or street outreach programs.

— Another 8,174 Iowans were at risk of homelessness and either served in permanent supportive housing or homelessness prevention programs, according to the group.

That means about one-third of homeless or at-risk Iowans between 2015 and 2016 were kids in public schools, according to available data.

Each of Iowa’s 333 public school districts has a homeless liaison who can identify a student who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. The goal for students is stability and the chance to flourish academically, said Geri McMahon, Iowa DOE administrative consultant who advocates for homeless students.

The National Center for Homeless Education found that homeless students have more acute and chronic illness, depression and anxiety, poor classroom engagement, and poorer social skills in early elementary school. The center also found that youth who experience homelessness are 7 percent more likely to drop out of school.

FULL ARTICLE: http://www.thegazette.com/iowaideas/stories/k-12-education/the-unfortunate-bystanders-in-homelessness-are-iowas-children-20171023

Makayla Tendall; (319) 368-8516; makayla.tendall@thegazette.com