New York City’s Homeless Children – Who is Helping Them?

Dear Commons Community,

There was an article in the NY Times a couple of days ago entitled, Homeless Children, Many Unanswered Questions, that examined the education services New York City provides for this under-the-radar population.  The article focused on a NYC Council hearing on the coordination or lack thereof of two City agencies, the Department of Education and the Department of Homeless Services, responsible for these children.  The Council asked basic questions such as:

“How many homeless students are enrolled in school? How many live within walking distance of their schools? And how many students are riding yellow school buses to distant neighborhoods — or taking long journeys on the subway to get to the school they had been attending before being placed in shelters far from home?”

The responses from the Departments’ representatives were not encouraging.  For many basic questions, officials had no answers or outdated data going back to 2008-09.  They could not even agree on a definition of homeless students.

“…officials from the Department of Human Services defined homeless students as those 6 to 17 years old, with no other housing options. By that measure, they said, they serve an average of 6,902 children a month.

But the Department of Education defines homeless children as those who are 3 to 21 years old and in temporary housing. By that measure, their estimate is more than eight times that of homeless services: an estimated 53,503 homeless students who were served last year.”

We need to do better for these children!  It takes a village!


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