On Monday, November 4, Chapin Hall released a new report, Missed Opportunities: Education Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness in America. The report finds that not completing high school is the single greatest risk factor associated with experiencing unaccompanied homelessness as a young person.

Here are some of the key findings from the report:

1. There is a reciprocal relationship between reduced educational attainment and experiences of homelessness: reduced educational attainment increases the likelihood of homelessness, and experiences of homelessness reduce the likelihood of school completion.

  • The Voices of Youth Count (VoYC) national survey found that not completing high school is the single greatest risk factor associated with experiencing unaccompanied homelessness as a young person. 
  • Youth who did not complete high school were 4.5 times more likely to experience homelessness than their peers who completed high school. 
  • The association between lower levels of education and youth homelessness remains even when accounting for other characteristics, such as race, sexual orientation, and household income.

2. Family issues in youths’ lives often prompt disruptions that contribute to experiences of homelessness and educational disconnection.

  • 73% of youth ages 13–25 who participated in the in-depth interviews reported experiencing prior homelessness in childhood or early adolescence. 
  • Young people across the five in-depth interview sites said that they experienced frequently disrupted schooling due to moving a lot, which often started in elementary or middle school and lasted through high school. 

3. Youth experiencing homelessness are less likely to be enrolled in four-year colleges.

  • Young adults who experienced homelessness were less than one-third as likely to be enrolled in a four-year college as stably housed peers. 
  • Whereas college students are at lower risk of homelessness than nonstudents, a considerable number of students struggle with homelessness and housing instability, particularly in two-year colleges.

4. For young people experiencing homelessness, opportunities to pursue education vary significantly across communities.

  • In the VoYC brief youth survey of youth experiencing homelessness, 27% of 18- to 25-year-old young adults in large communities were attending school, as compared with 21% in medium-sized, and 17% in small (more rural) communities.
  • Similarly, the proportion of youth disconnected from education and employment is greater in smaller communities.

5. Some youth experiencing homelessness do not receive sufficient information or resources to support their educational pursuits. 

  • In the VoYC service provider survey, about two-thirds of respondents indicated that they make education referrals for young people. 
  • In contrast, young people who participated in VoYC interviews reported missed opportunities for service providers to share information: only 1 in 5 reported that they learned about educational resources from social service providers.


Take Action

Chapin Hall’s research makes clear that access to quality education, from early childhood through young adulthood, is essential to help young people overcome homelessness and prevent future homelessness. Take action now:

1. Learn. Find out more about the intersection of education and homelessness from our common questions page, and from our answers to the real-life questions we receive from educators and providers.

2. Do. Find tools and resources on best practices, from early childhood through higher education, on our resources page.

3. Advocate. Take action on the top legislative issues before Congress to support the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness on our policy page.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This