State report shows uptick in student homelessness
Student homelessness is on the rise in Oregon — and the problem is as tangible as a 15-year-old sleeping in a car on a rainy school night.
The Oregon Department of Education in a homeless student report released Nov. 21 showed an uptick in homelessness with 3.88% of all students across the state being homeless.
According to the 2018-19 Homeless Count, 22,215 students in Oregon qualified as being homeless. The figure is a 2% increase over last year's statewide homeless student count of 21,746.
The national average is 2.5%, according to the National Center for Homeless Education.
Federal law defines a homeless student as one lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. NCHS data show that students who experience homelessness are significantly less likely to graduate from high school.
"Homelessness is traumatic for students, and hurts them in the classroom," explains St. Helens Superintendent Scot Stockwell.
Many "double up" by staying with family members or friends, while others live in motels, RVs or sleep on couches at friend's houses.
U.S. Department of Education policy requires districts receiving Title I-A funding to direct a portion of those funds to help homeless students.
Portland Public Schools have a relatively low 2.5% homeless rate, illustrating a long-standing pattern of Oregon's smaller, rural districts often have the highest homelessness rates, such as Mapleton, in the Coast Range west of Eugene which counts nearly 30 percent of its 150 students as homeless.
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