LOS ANGELES (Oct. 18, 2016) - Recognizing the significant challenges facing students who lack a permanent residence, the Board of Education voted unanimously today to declare November as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month and renew its commitment to serving this vulnerable population.
According to advocacy groups, homeless children are nine times more likely than their peers to repeat a grade, and four times more likely to drop out of school. During a single academic year, 42 percent of homeless students transfer schools at least once and 51 percent move two or more times.
L.A. Unified currently serves an estimated 13,800 children through its Homeless Education Program, providing nutritional, transportation, tutoring, counseling and other assistance. The program also provides healthcare referrals, and helps families receive educational resources.
“It is vital that the Board support the continued efforts of our Homeless Education Program and employees to address the needs of homeless youth and families in L.A. Unified Schools,” said Board Member Mónica Ratliff, who sponsored the resolution. “We must continue to provide our youth who are experiencing homelessness full access to a high quality education, as well as essential wrap-around services. I am particularly proud of our student speaker who discussed the impact of homelessness, the Homeless Education Program, and his bright future in engineering.”
Board President Steve Zimmer co-sponsored the resolution – which supports the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count held each January – along with Board Members Mónica García and Dr. Ref Rodriguez.
“One of the great honors of my life has been to work with students who are struggling with homelessness or housing insecurity,” Zimmer said. “The dreams, power and potential of these students must be supported from transitional kindergarten through graduation and beyond.”
Zimmer continued, “I am proud that L.A. Unified has one of the best support systems in the nation for families facing housing insecurity. The homelessness and housing crisis in Los Angeles is a public education issue. We all have a role to play in coming together and supporting all kids through this crisis.”
“We support Proposition HHH on the November ballot to bring solutions to Los Angeles’ homeless challenges,” Garcia said, referring to the Homelessness Reduction and Prevention, Housing and Facilities Bond. “We celebrate the resilience and courage of every youth who has experienced homelessness. We are partners in your success.”
Rodriguez said that Angelenos must take a different approach in order to resolve the city’s homelessness crisis.
“We must have our hearts broken in a way that allows love to pour out of them,” he said.
Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766