homeless students

Taylor Winkel

Across the country, more than one million kids may not know where they’re going to sleep tonight. It could be in a car, on a friend’s couch, in a homeless shelter, or even on the street.

In Washington state alone, there are more than 30,000 homeless children. And for these kids, getting their homework done is the least of their problems. Now a unique program out of Tacoma is trying to help those kids do better in school, one family at a time.

KPLU

The number of homeless students in Washington state has risen for the sixth straight year, this time topping 30,000.

The latest count by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction shows the number of students without homes rose by 11.8 percent from the previous year to reach 30,609 last school year. The figure reflects a 47.3 percent spike from the 2008-2009 school year.

freefotouk / Flickr

Some 27, 390 homeless students went to public school in Washington last year — up more than 5 percent over the year before, according to new numbers released by the state superintendent’s office. In the past, increases like that have been explained by school districts getting better at counting. But spokesman Nathan Olson said this time, based on what he’s heard from district officials, it looks like there just really are more homeless students.

“The data collection is fine now. People know about this, the homeless liaisons that every district has know about this, it’s not an issue. The issue really is the economy right now,” Olson said.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Some of Seattle’s most at-risk students are getting help with their reading skills, but not from people.

Once a week, service dogs lend their ears to formerly homeless children as they read aloud. It’s become a learning experience for both the kids and canines.

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.