Homework Starts with Home
More than 9,500 students enrolled in Minnesota’s public and charter schools on October 1, 2016 experience homelessness.(1) Nearly three quarters (72 percent) are students of color, with American Indians and African American students being most over-represented. The challenge is statewide: 1,241 schools identify students facing homelessness, covering 77 Minnesota counties and 300 school districts.
Research finds that a single episode of homelessness impacts educational achievement for two to three years. Only one in four third graders facing homelessness reads at their grade level. They are 37 percent less likely to be proficient compared with their low-income but housed counterparts and more likely to be chronically absent from school.
A STATEWIDE ISSUE
Homework Starts with Home is a partnership between the Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative, the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Housing, and the Minnesota Office to Prevent and End Homelessness. Our support for this initiative is part of our collective efforts to implement Heading Home: Minnesota’s Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness established by the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness.Under this initiative, at least 200 families and an estimated 400 school-age children will have access to stable, affordable housing, a critical platform for educational success.
WHAT CAN WE DO TOGETHER?
To address the connected issues of housing instability and student achievement, the Collaborative and the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness (MICH) (2) are seeking to support schools, school districts, local governments, and their community partners by:
- Targeting, coordinating, and leveraging state resources to house homeless students and families, including: short-term rental assistance, rapid re-housing support, temporary financial assistance, other service coordination and support services.
- Sharing best practices and promising approaches for serving homeless and highly mobile students.
- Supporting locally-driven solutions and partnerships to assist homeless students and families.
By working with schools and community partners when a family faces a housing crisis, Homework Starts With Home will seek to prevent episodes of homelessness whenever possible and ensure educational and housing stability for students if homelessness occurs.
THE PATH FORWARD
FOOTNOTES: 1 The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act defines homelessness as children and youth “who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” This includes children and youth living in the following situations: shelters or transitional housing programs; motels, hotels or weekly rate housing; doubled up with friends or relatives because family cannot find or afford housing; abandoned buildings, public space, car or other inadequate accommodation; and awaiting foster care placement (prior to court hearing).
2 The Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness includes Commissioners from 11 State agencies, Governor Mark Dayton’s office, and the Chair of the Metropolitan Council. Those State agencies include: Corrections, Education, Employment and Economic Development, Health, Higher Education, Human Rights, Human Services, Housing, Public Safety, Transportation and Veterans Affairs.