Homeless schoolchildren numbers surging

Sept. 6, 2009 at 5:49 PM

ASHEVILLE, N.C., Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Homelessness among U.S. schoolchildren is surging, rising by as much as 75 percent to 100 percent in many school districts in two years, advocates say.

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth says there were 679,000 homeless students reported in the 2006-7 school year, and that total has now surpassed 1 million by last spring, The New York Times reported Sunday.

"It's hard enough going to school and growing up, but these kids also have to worry where they'll be staying that night and whether they'll eat," Bill Murdock, chief executive of an Asheville, N.C., group that helps homeless families, told the newspaper. "We see 8-year-olds telling mom not to worry, don't cry."

Bruce Hunter, associate director of the American Association of School Administrators, said federal law requiring that school districts provide expensive and challenging transportation and other services to homeless children "are important, but Congress has passed the cost to state and local taxpayers."

The Times said Fairfax County, Va., where the homeless student population has climbed from 1,100 in June 2007 to 1,800 last spring, is using a temporary stimulus grant to work out the transportation needs for the children.

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