Homeless Child Education : Homeless Children

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Homeless Children Education Several factors severely compromise the ability of homeless children to succeed in school, as I discovered in interviews with 277 homeless families in New York City in 1988. Barriers to the success of these children include health problems, hunger, transportation obstacles, and difficulty obtaining school clothes and supplies—all of which are linked to low attendance rates (Rafferty and Rollins 1989). Other factors are associated with the nature of the emergency shelter system, the mobility that follows the loss of the home, and barriers that inhibit access to schools and to various school services. Sadly, there is no right to shelter in the United States. Even when families successfully obtain emergency shelter, other obstacles prevail. Placements are often made without regard to community ties or educational continuity. For example, the 1989 study by Rafferty and Rollins showed that 71 percent of homeless families with school-age children were sheltered in areas far removed from their original homes. Many had been frequently bounced between facilities. In many cases, each transfer to a different shelter requires a transfer to a new school, and each transfer means the loss of valuable school days. In addition, the noisy environment and constant flow of traffic typical of many shelters make it difficult for children to do their homework or get enough sleep. Project SAFE does not stop there. Family assistants continue to monitor children 's
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