SchoolHouse Connection released a five-part summation of research findings related to youth homelessness from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The YRBS is a study developed in 1990 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect data on youth and adult health risk behaviors in the United States. SchoolHouse Connection, a national non-profit working to overcome homelessness through education, analyzed data from the 2017 YRBS, revealing distressing results and providing tangible action steps for educators and school administrators to support students experiencing homelessness.
Part I included prevalence, identification, and action steps for schools. Findings showed 4.9% of surveyed high school students experienced homelessness at some point during the 2016-2017 school year, a rate much higher than currently reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Public schools have not been identifying nearly half of high school students experiencing homelessness.
Part II outlined racial and ethnic equity: disproportionality and action steps for schools. Black and Hispanic high school students experience a disproportionately high levels of homelessness compared to their peers. Recommendations for educators include a shift toward positive or restorative justice policies, which involve a trauma-informed communal approach to discussing situations. Youth are empowered by restorative justice policies to think of solutions and discuss what can be done to repair the situation.
Part III summarized sexual orientation equity: disproportionality and action steps for schools. Based upon SchoolHouse Connection’s analysis of YRBS data, for every 10 high school students experiencing homelessness, 3 identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning.
Part IV revealed vulnerability of different homeless situations, showing that the safety, health, and well-being of high school students experiencing homelessness are vulnerable regardless of different homeless situations. Different homeless situations include being housed, sharing housing due to loss of housing or economic hardship; shelter or emergency housing; motel or hotel; car, park, campground, or other public place; or no usual place to sleep.
Part V explained instances of missing school due to safety concerns. Data revealed that high school students experiencing homelessness are 4.63 times more likely to miss school compared to high school students not experiencing homelessness due to safety concerns. These students may feel unsafe due to a long commute to their school, especially if high school students have to wait in or walk through areas with higher violent-crime rates.
Learn more and view suggested action steps for schools, teachers, and administrators at SchoolHouse Connection.