Fort Worth

Homeless students in Texas at 113,000 last year, likely more now

Community leaders sleep out in the cold to draw attention to homeless youth

The event involving business and community leaders is staged each year to raise money for the Promise House, which was established in 1984 to combat youth homelessness in Dallas.
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The event involving business and community leaders is staged each year to raise money for the Promise House, which was established in 1984 to combat youth homelessness in Dallas.

In Texas, 113,063 students experienced homelessness in the 2014-15 school year, and homelessness is on the rise among public schools in 35 states including Texas.

That’s according to a federal report highlighted Tuesday in a news release by First Focus Campaign for Children and SchoolHouse Connection, two national campaigns aimed at supporting families.

According to the report, public schools reported that 1.26 million students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 experienced homelessness during the 2014-15 school year, a 3.5 percent increase over three years and a 34 percent increase since the Great Recession ended in June 2009.

“These numbers include both children who are with families and those who are on their own,” said Barbara Duffield, executive director of SchoolHouse Connection.

1.26 million Students in enrolled in public pre-kindergarten through grade 12 who experienced homelessness during the 2014-15 school year

The Fort Worth school district has identified 1,283 homeless students this school year, compared with 1,157 last year.

Duffield said Texas has seen a steady increase in homeless students over the last four years. Some 83,626 students were identified as homeless during the 2011-12 school year.

21 States, including Texas, that experienced an increase in the homeless-student population of more than 10 percent

Jeanne Stamp, project director for the Texas Homeless Education Office in Austin, said the increases are in part due to improved tracking of homeless students and because Texas has a large population of poor families.

“People in poverty are much more likely to find themselves in a homeless situation,” Stamp said.

113,063 Homeless students enrolled in Texas schools during the 2014-15 school year

Duffield said homeless youths stay wherever they can — a couch, a car, a basement, a motel. If they are fortunate, they might find a shelter bed, she said, adding that there are not enough shelter beds for all who need them.

“This means moving from place to place, hoping not to wear out their welcome, never knowing when they will be asked to leave, and sometimes being forced to stay with strangers, which puts them at risk of abuse and neglect,” Duffield said. “The disruption and trauma of homelessness wreaks havoc with all aspects of a child or youth’s life. Schools are often the only safe and stable place in their lives.”

Diane A. Smith: 817-390-7675, @dianeasmith1

When We Love and Compassion of Christ Ministries are among outreach groups caring for homeless

Presbyterian Night Shelter cares for homeless as the temperatures drop

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