NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An eye-opening new report shows at least 1 in 10 New York City students was homeless last school year, enough students to fill the seats of the Barclays Center six times over.
CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports there are programs that are attempting to counter the traumatic impact of homelessness, which includes struggles with reading comprehension, absenteeism and dropping out of school.
At the Women In Need family shelters, students get extra help with their education.
“We provide after-school programs so that children have an opportunity to avoid learning loss,” said Tamara Ortiz, WIN director of children services. “We help them with homework help. We also make sure there aren’t any obstacles that affect their attendance.”
According to a new report by Advocates for Children of New York, more than 114,000 students in the city were homeless last school year, a number that has increased more than 70% in the last decade. The report was generated from information submitted to the state education department.
“If the students who were homeless in New York City made up their own school district, it would be one of the 30 largest school districts in the nation,” said Randi Levine, policy director of Advocates for Children of New York. “It’s double the size of the entire Boston public school system.”
A vast majority of the homeless students in the city do not live in shelters. They’re temporarily staying with family or friends, and experts say domestic violence is one of the most common reasons for the displacement.
In response, last school year, the district hired 100 school-based community coordinators to help link students to services. Add to that social workers who also track and assess their needs.
While Levine applauds the district’s efforts, she says there are still too many barriers to getting help and even more investments are needed.
“We also want the Department of Education to increase its coordination with the Department of Homeless Services and work to place more students in shelters that are closer to their schools,” Levine said.
For children, especially those in shelters, the instability can plant the seed that creates a vicious cycle and the impact can last a lifetime.