|Posted:||September 4, 2019 02:41 PM|
|From:||Representative Donna Bullock|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Designating November 17 through 22, 2019 as "Students Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week" and November 22, 2019 as “Red Shirt Day”|
In the 2017-2018 school year, 36,823 school children experienced homelessness in Pennsylvania. That’s an increase of nearly 22% over the last school year.
The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law which requires that school districts accommodate students who are experiencing homelessness to keep at least one aspect of their lives stable. This may mean providing accommodations for transportation from wherever the student is staying to providing additional services to ensure the student is able to keep up with their classmates.
Pennsylvania is divided into regions for the purposes of tracking these students and ensuring they receive these services. Two regions in particular saw the largest increase. Region 2 which includes Berks, Chester, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and Schuylkill which saw a 37% increase in student homelessness and Region 7 encompassing Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackwanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, and Wyoming counties which saw a 46% increase from the 2016-2017 school year.
Students classified as homeless include children impacted by the opioid crisis, fleeing domestic violence, parents who have lost jobs, and LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of their homes. These students are living with friends, relatives, in cars, in motels, and often their peers and school officials are often the first to know that the student is struggling. The McKenny-Vento act ensures that each region has a coordinator who provides services specifically to support these students and get them to graduation, however, we know that there are children falling through the cracks.
So please join me in supporting this resolution to declare November 17-22nd as Students Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week and November 22nd as “Red Shirt Day” to raise awareness not only of the issue of homelessness but to encourage students and their friends to seek help and support.