In 2014-15, Thompson School District assisted nearly 600 homeless students. It's important to understand what determines whether a student is considered homeless - assuming the living situation is reported - and how this ultimately affects their ability to learn. According to the McKinney-Vendo Homeless Assistance Act of 2001, the term "homeless children and youth":
- means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence
- includes children and youths that are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer (RV) parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement
- includes children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
- includes children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
- includes migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described above
Learning more about this troubling escalation in children without a proper home in our community at this week's TSD Stakeholder's meeting made it even more evident why United for Thompson will continue to encourage our community to become more informed and engaged with our schools. According to the homelessness presentation "Each year, one in three homeless students in Colorado switches schools at least once, according to state Department of Education data. It takes a child four to six months to regain the academic ground lost by one move."
All of our students deserve community support to ensure the very best education. But, our children and youth experiencing homelessness often have insurmountable hurdles to face, leading to poor performance in class, increased dropout rates, and decreasing graduation rates due to many factors. Perhaps they don't have adequate transportation, clothing, school supplies, or health care allowing them to focus on being successful in the classroom. They're likely hungry without proper meals and nourishment, or they may suffer from unaddressed mental health or academic needs. Their needs are even more critical if we want to ensure every child deserves the opportunity to be successful.
According to an article by David Sirota called Teachers Were Never the Problem - Poverty still lies at the root of U.S. 'education crisis', "Social science research over the last few decades has shown that two thirds of student achivement is a product of out-of-school factors - and among the most powerful of those is economic status. That's hardly shocking: kids who experience destitution and all the problems that come with it have enough trouble just surviving, much less succeeding in school."
TWO-THIRDS of a student's "achievement"...that's not something to be ignored when our community is demanding budget austerity unless test scores and graduation rates improve without considering the variables potentially affecting those numbers district-wide.
So, how can we continue to help our Thompson students, especially those living in poverty who will be most affected by inadequate local investment in funding for our schools? Learn more about TSD's Student Support Services, along with "Thompson Cares", the "collaboration of district and community resources for the overall health and well being of all Thompson students and families. The CARES group is a supportive, preventative, and empowering resource for all Thompson Schools." Through these community partnerships and district programs, most of which Thompson School District stakeholders can participate in, our homeless students have access to more wrap-around services and resources necessary to help provide them with more opportunities to be successful. Visit the links below to see how you can help and thank you for your continued dedication to our students: