New data from the National Center for Homeless Education, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, shows just how deep the nation’s economic woes run.
According to a newly released study, there were just under 1.2 million homeless public school students during the 2011-2012 academic year — the largest number ever recorded.
This stunning statistic indicates a 10 percent increase from the previous year and a 72 percent increase since the beginning of the recession, CNN reported (full results from the NCHE study are here).
During the 2009-2010 school year, the number of homeless children was less than 1 million (935,831); it crossed this threshold during the 2010-2011 academic year (1,062,928) and reached 1,166,436 during the 2011-2012 year. The below table provides these breakdowns:
As Russia Today noted, 55.5 million students were enrolled in public school (all grades, including preschool) during the 2011-2012 academic year. That means that 2 percent of all students were homeless.
While unemployment, among other indicators, may show that the economy is on the upswing, the most recent NCHE data clearly provides a glimpse into the problems that remain.
Barbara Duffield, policy director at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, told CNN that while the recession isn’t over for many Americans, there is another factor that could be driving the startling growth in child homelessness.
Teachers, administrators and others in school environments have become more equipped to identify homeless children. With these abilities improving, more young people are potentially being identified.
That said, Duffield warned that the 1.2 million figure may actually fail to include many children and teens who are homeless, but who try to hide that reality.
“There are a lot of kids, especially in high school, who really hide [that they are homeless] and try to stay under the radar — they’re just embarrassed,” she told CNN. “And parents are afraid they will be removed from their custody, so there are definitely kids that go unseen.”
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