There has been difficulty that’s been plaguing the entirety of students in the high school area of Washington state. That being how it’s so difficult to hang on to a residence once homelessness becomes a factor. Without a high school degree, it becomes likely even more hard to hang on to stable housing. Then, becoming a chronically homeless adult, the former student may further descend into madness when not having the means to see to their own mental and physical health. Not to mention treating their own substance abuse. It’s all really quite worrisome, especially with the stats. About 59% of homeless students graduate in four years. But that percentile pales in comparison when held against housed students seeing an 83% entirety for graduation. This disparity goes beyond Washington as it does have an effect on the national student body as well.
In North Thurston Public Schools specifically, around 661 students, similar to homeless people, find themselves sleeping in vehicles, on couches, in shelters and even tents. All while graduating around the same prices as their own kind. It’s repeatedly proven that graduating for homeless students requires immense support and strength. All while, the graduation rates for the homeless students has risen from about 65% in 2017 to around 84% in 2020. Even further up, 81% in 2021. All within 7 percentage points of the all-surpassing graduation rate in the district. State education officials believe that North Thurston gives way to show how homelessness can handle the rest of any student’s life.
Homelessness can occur for any reason.
40% of homeless youth I.D. as LGBTQ. Meanwhile, 68% of them state that family rejection to be the rationale of why homelessness exists. This is where the Student Navigators step in. Their role is to help out any homeless student with whatever their needs are. From housing to food to planning for the future after the graduation ceremony, Student Navigators are around the be of service. As it turns out, the Student Navigator program allows for all barriers to be removed for the homeless population. It’s beyond hours that the student navigators spend with their assigned homeless students. Before, the district was left with only one homeless student liaison to support a number of about 900 homeless students and around the same number for foster care children. As it turns out, each school district in the nation is under mandate to give a liaison under the McKinney Vento Act, which is a law that was initially passed in 1987 in order to show that students with homelessness may use the access for free, appropriate public education.
However, the law and more federal funding don’t quite allow the support that homeless students really need, according to the advocates and education officials. There are even other duties beyond that, like how the McKinney-Vento liaison is incidentally a principal or the superintendent of the district. Around 60% of McKinney-Vento liaisons on a statewide level mention how they have had less than four hours a week in order to serve homeless students.
But thanks to the student navigators, life becomes much easier for homeless students to navigate.