With LAUSD’s number of homeless students jumping by more than 1,000 since November, local and state response grows

In just the last five months, L.A. Unified’s number of homeless students has climbed by more than a thousand.

The district has identified 17,494 homeless students as of Tuesday — up from about 16,200 students reported in November and about 17,280 reported one month ago, according to data provided by school board member Kelly Gonez. The term homeless includes those living in shelters, motels, cars, doubled up with other families and those who are unsheltered.

The hike in identifications is likely due to heightened community awareness about student homelessness, as well as L.A. Unified staff’s more “thoughtful” approach to broaching the topic with families, said Gonez, who represents the school board’s District 6 in the San Fernando Valley. Awareness is growing statewide as well, with the number of K-12 homeless students in California — more than 200,000— rising more than 20 percent in the past four years.

Homeless students can often be overlooked because “the focus has been on the visible homeless: the people you see in tents, on the sidewalk, on the freeway,” said state Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, whose district includes the San Fernando Valley. “Homeless children and families are more of the ‘hidden homeless.’”

In response, an array of state and local initiatives have ramped up to provide support. The L.A. Unified school board last month unanimously backed two bills — introduced by Rivas in December and passing through state House committees now — that would add a state-level representative for homeless students and hire more homeless coordinators, who guide local districts on how to best serve children lacking permanent housing. Another bill to procure more state funding for these students is reportedly coming down the pike as well. Click here to read more: http://laschoolreport.com/with-lausds-number-of-homeless-students-jumping-by-more-than-1000-since-november-local-and-state-response-grows/