K-12 Education
5:40 pm
Thu December 23, 2010

More Washington schools report homeless students

The number of homeless students in Washington during the past school year is 5-percent higher than the previous year.  More than 21,000 homeless students now go to school in Washington state, according to new figures released by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

During the 2005-06 school year, districts reported half as many homeless students.

Awareness is one of the biggest reasons for the jump, says Melinda Dyer, program supervisor for the education of homeless children and youth at OSPI.  She says five years ago,  many districts didn't know they were required to report on homeless children to the federal government. 

The struggling economy is also behind the increase, she says.

She suspects the number is actually low, because most families don't want to tell people they don't have a place to live.  Washington's homeless students are among about 1.3 million homeless children nationwide.