The Effects of Being Homeless and Receiving a Public Education

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The Effects of Being Homeless and Receiving a Public Education:


For so long the homeless populations of the children in our public school systems have been overlooked. Research shows that homeless and low-income students suffer from some of the same issues but homeless children suffer long- term effects outside of what their housed peers face. The McKinney-Vento Act that was reauthorized in 2001 sets standards for how public schools should service homeless students. Beyond the public schools there are many things that teachers can do individually to enhance their children’s experiences and learning while at school. The only way to break this vicious cycle of homelessness in public schools is through education.


The absence of a stable living arrangement has a devastating impact on educational outcomes for youth. For many students who are homeless, not having the proper school records often leads to incorrect classroom placement (Roundtree, 1996). Medical records, immunization records, previous school transcripts, and proof of residency are some of the barriers students that suffer from homelessness have to face when being placed within school districts. When students change schools frequently, it is difficult for educators to correctly identify their needs and ensure proper placement (Roundtree, 1996). Also, the lack of transportation is an obstacle that further prevents many homeless children and youth from obtaining education. Stereotypes about homelessness combined with lack of support from the school district can often prevent homeless students from receiving the best education possible (Roundtree, 1996). All of these reasons prevent homeless youth from receiving an adequate chance to their educational rights. For so long the population of homeless children has been overlooked in our public education systems. The purpose of this paper is to bring awareness to the effects of being homeless on children and education. I plan to do this by bringing awareness to the barriers that children and families face while trying to receive a free and equal education. There has been a misconception that homeless families suffer the same effects of those of low-income families. Research shows that homeless children and their families have a far harder time achieving academic success. With the definition of homelessness being anyone who, due to a lack of housing, lives in emergency or transitional shelters, in motels, hotels, trailer parks, campgrounds, abandoned in hospitals, awaiting foster care placement, in cars, parks, public places, bus or train stations, abandoned buildings, or doubled up with relatives or friends, show us that homeless is just that without a home. To discriminate against these students because of lack of housing is something that I believe the educational system shouldn’t stand for.


Review of Research

In a 1993 study found in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology researchers examined the psychological adjustment of 159 homeless children in comparison with a sample of 62 low-income children living at home. In each group, ages ranged from 8-17years old. Homeless children were found to have greater recent stress exposure than housed poor children, as well as more disrupted schooling and friends. It was also found that child behavior problems were above normal levels for homeless children, particularly for antisocial behavior. Externalizing scores on the Child Behavior Checklist for the homeless children were significantly higher than normative for all groups. The number of children with total problem scores in the clinical range was 200% higher than the expected value of 18%. The proportion of housed poor children in the clinical range was about 50% higher than expected, which was not a significant difference. The proportions in the clinical range for externalizing scores were higher than expected values for both homeless and housed samples. For the...
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