Under the McKinney-Vento Act, every school district nationwide is required to designate a liaison to identify students experiencing homelessness so they can receive needed services. A recent NPR article discussed the difficulty schools face in identifying students experiencing homelessness resulting in the number of homeless youth and children being severely undercounted.
A graduate of Family Promise and staunch homeless advocate, Simeria Dewalt, was among those who shared with NPR why access to these services is vital to the health of children experiencing homelessness.
When her family came to Family Promise, she recalled her children’s embarrassment that they did not have a home. “They were more afraid of what people would think and they would hide going into the shelter and coming out.” As someone with lived experience, Simeria is aware of these stigmas surrounding homelessness and of the lack of education on the many forms homelessness can take. The challenge of identifying youth homelessness comes is it is so often hidden from our view and something that those experiencing it do not openly share.
Simeria and so many other mothers that come through our programs have seen firsthand the need for education on the impact of homelessness on families and children. Without a change in the perception and definition of homelessness and a breaking down of stigmas associated with it, school districts will continue to face difficulty identifying students in need of assistance.
To learn more about how we can prevent the number of children experiencing homelessness from being undercounted, read the article here.