Child and Youth Homelessness in the United States: Data Profiles
Homelessness is a traumatic experience with potential long-term consequences. Yet child and youth homelessness is largely hidden from sight – including from the practitioners and policymakers who are best positioned to help.
SchoolHouse Connection and Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan have created searchable data profiles to raise awareness of the scale and impact of homelessness on children and youth, and to underscore the need for action to meet their needs.
These profiles make available – for the first time – child and youth homelessness data at the county and Congressional levels. The profiles also include data at the national, state, and school district levels. We urge educators, service providers, advocates, and elected officials to explore the profiles, educate themselves on the issues, and take action to prevent and solve child and youth homelessness.
To explore the data profiles, click on the tabs at the top of this page.
Related Data Briefs:
Archived Webinar: Data to Action: How to Use New Searchable Data Profiles to Improve Practice and Policy for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessnessn
Date Recorded: March 14, 2023
SchoolHouse Connection and Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan have created searchable data profiles to raise awareness of the scale and impact of homelessness on children and youth, and to underscore the need for action to meet their needs. These profiles make available – for the first time – child and youth homelessness data at the county and Congressional levels. The profiles also include data at the national, state, and school district levels.
This webinar will demonstrate how data these profiles can be used to:
- Educate community members, educators, and policymakers about the prevalence and the impact of child and youth homelessness, from early childhood through postsecondary education
- Explore whether local school districts may be under-identifying children and youth experiencing homelessness
- Understand patterns of federal funding and its impact on identification
What is Homelessness?
The data in the profiles are based on the federal education definition of homelessness in the McKinney-Vento Act. All public educational agencies — early childhood, K12, and higher education — are required to use this definition of homelessness. Under this definition, homelessness includes staying with others temporarily due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason, as well as staying in shelters, motels, and unsheltered situations. Lack of shelter, fear of having children removed from parental custody, and restrictive eligibility criteria for housing programs mean that most families and youth experiencing homelessness stay in places that are not easily identified. They also move frequently and unpredictably between unstable and often unsafe settings. Early childhood programs and public schools are required to identify children and youth experiencing homelessness, no matter where they are staying, or how often they move.
Why Pay Attention to Child and Youth Homelessness?
Homelessness negatively impacts children and youth’s development, health, and education — impacts that are distinct from and worse than the effects of poverty more generally. From low birth weight to developmental delays, from chronic absence to lower high school graduation and college enrollment rates, homelessness is a unique and pernicious risk factor. Education — from early childhood through postsecondary education — is among the most powerful antidotes to homelessness in the long-term, and is a source of immediate support and connection to housing and services, in the short term. Youth without a high school diploma are 4.5 times more likely to experience homelessness later in life, making the lack of a high school diploma/GED the single greatest risk factor for experiencing homelessness as a young adult.
Where Do These Data Come From?
All of the PreK-12 data in the profiles is reported to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) by state education agencies, and is publicly available on EdDataExpress.Ed.Gov. Federal financial aid data, state allocations of annual homeless education funding (McKinney-Vento), and state allocations of COVID-relief (American Rescue Plan – Homeless Children and Youth, or ARP-HCY) funding also are available on ED data. Head Start data was reported to the Office of Head Start by Head Start and Early Head Start programs. The number of school districts receiving one-time COVID-relief funding (ARP-HCY) for students experiencing homelessness was obtained through requests to state homeless education coordinators.