Report: NYC students living in homeless shelters missed 1 out of 3 days of school last year
In a staggering report, News 12 has learned that many New York City students living in homeless shelters missed one out of every three days of school last year.
This comes as Advocates for Children of New York released a report on attendance data for tens of thousands of students.
Local organizations are calling the data disheartening but not surprising. On Monday night, News 12 spoke with advocates for children to learn more about their findings as well as BronxWorks, a group that offers homeless services to families across the borough.
"Depending on the month, it ranged from anywhere between 11 to 14 percentage points lower attendance than their permanently housed peers," says Jennifer Pringle, a project director with Advocates for Children of New York.
They say the overall attendance rate for homeless students was between 75% and 80%.
Pringle says older students were impacted even more. Megan Wedt, who works at BronxWorks, says a common barrier for homeless students last year was a lack of technology.
She also says that only scratches the surface. "Transportation, is it that the child didn't have clean clothes to go to school that day, is it that mom is really struggling with mental illness,” said Wedt.
That is why Advocates for Children of New York says it is calling on the city to hire more family assistants to work in city shelters.
Fortunately, the Department of Education says it is in the process of using federal funding to work on expanding staffing saying in part, "We have almost doubled the number of dedicated staff members working in school and shelters to over 300. We continue to work with partner agencies while engaging stakeholders regarding the use of federal funds."
Both Pringle and Wendt say that even though children are back in school and not having to learn from their shelters, this is still a major issue.
Pringle says the attendance rate for students in shelters in the first few weeks of this school year was just 73%.