West Virginia responding to rise of homeless students

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – The number of homeless public school students has increased by nearly 1,000 since the 2017-2018 school year, but there are a lot of factors that contribute to this number.

By federal definition, a homeless student qualifies as any child that lacks a consistent nighttime residence. This could include children who are doubled up in homes, those that reside in a shelter, foster children, and more. This can impact multiple areas of a child’s life.

“They’re at risk for academic failure because they don’t have a consistent nighttime residence”, says Senior Administrator for Federal Programs Melanie Purkey, “If they’re doubled up in a home that’s overcrowded, they may not be getting a good nights rest where they can sit and read or do their homework”.

After seeing the steady increase, legislatures approved of additional social and emotional support resources for West Virginia schools. $30 million will go towards professionals who are trained and equipped to provide mental health counseling.

“It will be very helpful for us to have professionals in the building who are social workers or counselors who can really address the trauma these kids are under” says Purkey.

The West Virginia Department of Education says if you know a student that may be living in inconsistent living conditions, contact school administrators immediately.

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