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According to the Seattle Times:

State had more than 27K homeless students last year

State education officials say the number of homeless students continues to rise.

More than 27,000 students were reported as homeless in the 2011-12 school year. That number is up about 5 percent from 2010-11 and up nearly 47 percent from the beginning of the recession.

Districts blame the still struggling job market, the closing of factories and cuts in funding for programs that prevent homelessness for the growing problem in Washington public schools

Districts also say that better reporting and more awareness have led to more accurate numbers. According to the federal law on homeless students, a student is considered homeless if he or she doesn’t have a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. That includes living in a shelter, a car or another kind of temporary housing.

27,000 YOUTH. The number is horrifying.

It’s difficult for a child to focus and participate in school when they don’t have a place they can call home. Teachers and staff face these challenges daily in their schools.

What I’d like to see our legislators do during their brief time in Olympia this session is focus on funding education adequately, which is their legal responsibility, and deal with the reality of our homeless youth.

Since that isn’t likely to happen, here are some programs that are working on the increasing amount of homeless youth in Seattle for example YouthCare, ROOTS and Catholic Housing Services

I would suggest working with your school PTA on assembling and providing weekend snack packs for students on the free lunch program and ensuring that those students have adequate warm clothing, blankets and school supplies. Many times these students seem invisible to us but it’s important during these times to support families who have no where to go.

Dora Taylor