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Helping Homeless K-12 Students

Helping Homeless K-12 Students

A recent study conducted by the US Department of Education revealed the percentages of homeless K-12 students by state. The states with the largest percentages of homeless students were:

  1. California (21.3 percent)
  2. New York (8.3 percent)
  3. Texas (8.1 percent)

The chart below illustrates student homeless population increase or decrease by state between 2011 and 2012.

 increase homeless students

The states with the largest percent increase in student homeless student population for this time period were:

  1. North Dakota (212 percent increase)
  2. Maine ( 58 percent increase)
  3. North Carolina (53 percent increase)

Why do students become homeless? Typically, they struggle with one or more of the following: domestic violence, mental health, catastrophic illness, substance abuse, natural disasters, and lack of affordable housing.

How can we address the needs of homeless students? Some states are taking measures to address the needs of homeless students. The following are some of these measures.

  • The state of Maine has hired homeless student liaisons in their schools. The liaisons keep track of homeless students and assist them with rides to school, motels or shelters.
  • North Carolina has encouraged their teachers to provide pens, pencils, and calculators to students.
  • In Michigan, hospitals have provided students with backpacks full of school supplies and food.
  • A local nonprofit, OATHS, was started by a high school student in Idaho to provide school supplies, clothes, musical instruments, and graduation attire.
  • In Oklahoma, students are given rides to school and fed breakfast, lunch, and after-school snacks.
  • Several states provide job skills training and tutoring for students.

Jesus once told a parable about helping “the least of these”. He concluded by saying that when we help those who are less fortunate we are actually serving him.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ (Matt. 25:34-36).

Which of the above mentioned programs or services can your church help provide?
What other needs of homeless students could your church fill?

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