Homeless Youth in School
The McKinney Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program, also known as McKinney-Vento, provides federally-funded support to local districts to help ensure that homeless students are able to continue to attend school and succeed in the midst of their struggle to find permanent housing.
Students who are awaiting foster care are provided services through the McKinney-Vento program in addition to students who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. Federal McKinney-Vento legislation is silent on exactly what “awaiting foster care” means, but in March of 2012 the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) put forth a definition in which they define awaiting foster care as “the period of time between the initial placement of the child into state care and the 30-day shelter care hearing.” At this hearing, youth are either ordered to return home or to remain in placement.
Children covered by the McKinney-Vento definition are provided assistance with transportation; assistance with obtaining appropriate school, birth and immunization records; free lunches; and in some cases, assistance with securing stable housing.
Between the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years, Pierce County saw a 21 percent net increase in the number of students who were identified as either homeless or awaiting foster care. In real numbers, that equates to an overall increase of 590 students, which brings the county total to 3,318 students.
Bethel, Puyallup and Tacoma experienced the largest numeric increases in homeless children served in 2010-2011 with increases of 243 (86 percent), 153 (51 percent) and 79 (7 percent) students respectively. The only districts in the county that showed declines in the number of homeless children served in 2010-2011 were Sumner, Fife and Orting, which served 56 (22 percent), nine (7 percent), and five (24 percent) fewer homeless children respectively.