Educational Challenges for Children Facing Homelessness

Heading back to school is an exciting time for kids across the country. After two long months of summer fun, they’re ready to see all of their friends and get back into the swing of things. While this is the case for many, for children facing homelessness, going back to school means coping with a unique set of challenges. 

educational challenges for children facing homelessness

Top reasons, according to data given by the United States Department of Education, for why children facing homelessness miss school.

Image from Public Health Post

According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Education (seen above), children facing homelessness most often miss school due to not having basic survival needs. This includes things like food, housing, and medical care. On top of these basic needs, “many homeless children face resource issues like transportation, study space, and clothing needs, as well as specific medical and health care problems.” 

Missing out on these basic survival needs create challenges for children facing homelessness. It is these challenges that create barriers for children facing homelessness to learn and thrive in school.  

3 Educational Challenges for Children Facing Homelessness

1. Social & Behavioral Issues  

For children living on the streets, the uncertainty of their living arrangements and lack of stability can elicit deep anxiety. As a result, it’s common for emotional and behavioral issues to arise. In fact, homeless children are 3x as likely to be suspended than children with stable housing. 

Children facing homelessness also have a harder time making friends. Think of all the times you wanted your friends to come over and play when you were a child. Or how many times a potential new friend asked where you lived. What do you say when you have nowhere to call home? 

2. Academic Challenges

According to the Institue for Children, Poverty & Homelessness, only 11.4% of homeless high school-aged students are proficient in math, and just 14.6% are proficient in reading. Getting good grades and focusing on learning multiplication is hard when you’re too busy focusing on how empty your stomach feels. 

One of the biggest factors for these shocking percentages is because of the number of times a child facing homelessness is uprooted and moved throughout the year. This is common for children facing homelessness. Every time a child moves, 3-6 months of their education is lost. This makes these children 4x more likely to show slow development, and 2x more likely to have learning disabilities. 

3. Lack of School Supplies

School supplies are expensive, and if you can’t afford lunch, it’s likely that you can’t afford a new pack of pencils, either. The average household spends $668 on back-to-school supplies every year. That’s enough to feed a child facing homelessness for months. 

Children can’t learn without basic school supplies. Here are a few supplies that children facing homelessness need:

  • Backpacks
  • Pens and pencils
  • Crayons
  • Clothing (uniforms)
  • Lunchbox
  • Binders and notebooks
  • Calculator

No child deserves to fall behind on their education. At Atlanta Mission, our goal is to help these children succeed in all that they do – and your generosity is what makes that possible. From donating school supplies, to taking time to ask your community and schools how you can help those in need, every donation and action taken makes a difference.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help children heading back to school, reach out to us here.

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