Close to 3,000 students in Allegheny County public schools were identified as experiencing homelessness during the 2018-19 school year, or 2.0% of the total student population. Meanwhile, homelessness rates have been growing in recent years and lost income due to COVID-19 is likely to bring even more students to the point of housing and educational instability.
Students who have experienced homelessness face substantial barriers to receiving the same education as that of their peers living in stable housing, and the first step to alleviating those barriers is identification. By comparing student homeless to overall student poverty, we find that, on average, Allegheny County schools identify students experiencing homelessness at below the national average. Rates of identification vary widely across Allegheny County school districts, with many identifying at less than half the national rate, while others exceeded the national rate. Districts with lower rates of identification can adopt practices of neighboring districts to improve identification of SEH.
This brief follows a recent statewide report on Students Experiencing Homelessness in Pennsylvania: New Evidence of Under-Identification and Inequity from RFA’s PACER series.