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Homelessness Among California School Children Doubled In Recent Years

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - Nearly 270,000 California public school students were homeless at some point during the last school year, according to a new report that finds the number of homeless students is growing at twice the national rate.

Data released Wednesday by the California Homeless Youth Project shows homelessness among school children has doubled since the 2010-2011 school year, from four percent to eight percent of all students enrolled at public schools. Director Shahera Hyatt said nearly 20,000 Bay Area school children homeless at some point in the last year.

"Homelessness is not localized," she said, "just in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It's really a problem throughout the state."

Homelessness Rises Among California School Children

School districts need to put more money into programs that help families struggling with homelessness, Hyatt said, because California accounts for about one-fifth of all homeless school children in the country.

"Homeless liaisons that work in school districts can be stretched very thin, which makes it difficult not only to provide services for students experiencing homelessness, but also for data collection."

The report considers any student as homeless if he or she did not have a fixed nighttime residence.

Finding services for school children who don't have a place to live can be challenging, advocates said, because the Department of Housing and Urban Development does not recognize families as homeless unless they reside in a shelter.

"Regulations do not consider those children to be homeless. And that means they cannot receive HUD assistance designed for homeless people," said Patricia Julianelle, an attorney at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children.

"It's surprising for many people that the federal agency responsible for providing services for homeless people does not provide services to these children."

The report also notes the impact homelessness can have on academic performance and attendance.

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