• Description

Children need stability to thrive, but for the more than 36,000 children in Michigan's elementary, middle and high schools who face homelessness, stability is often elusive. Under federal education law all children and youth who "lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence" are homeless. These children not only lack a stable place to call home, they are more likely to transfer schools, have long commutes, struggle with poor health, and be chronically absent than their non-homeless peers. All of these daily challenges place homeless students at a greater risk for not meeting grade-level standards and for dropping out of school. Recent research in the State of Michigan has shown homelessness among children to be a key factor predicting student achievement in both rural and urban areas, yet little attention has been given, thus far, to understanding where homeless students in Michigan attend school and how their needs might differ depending on their geographic location. This policy brief seeks to fill that gap so that policymakers and local stakeholders can begin to think about the impact of homelessness in their area and to identify resources to support some of the State's most vulnerable children. Data for this brief comes from school year 2015-16 administrative records collected by every school under the mandate of the Federal McKinney-Vento Act, a law which guarantees homeless student's right to an education.