FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana saw an 81 percent increase in the number of homeless students from 2008 to 2013, according to data from the Indiana Department of Education included in a report released Monday by the nonprofit Indiana Youth Institute.
The data show that the state had more than 16,200 homeless students during the 2013-2014 school year, up from nearly 9,000 during the 2008-2009 school year. The numbers cover students attending public schools and are the most recent available.
“Anytime you see an increase like that, there’s certainly cause for concern to hope that as many of those students as possible are getting the services they need to try to enhance their educational outcomes,” said Glenn Augustine, interim CEO of the institute, told The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette.
Homeless students are defined as young people who lack a fixed, regular and adequate residence to sleep in at night. That could include students living in motels, parks, vehicles or public places or are awaiting foster care placement.
Statewide, the data show 82 counties had more homeless students, eight had fewer homeless students and two counties’ numbers were unchanged. Data include students from preschool through 12th grade.
Jennings County had the highest rate statewide with 84 homeless per 1,000 students. Warren County reported no homeless students.
At Fort Wayne Community Schools the district has a homeless liaison coordinator who makes sure students receive free meals and textbooks among other services.
“Homeless students have the right to stay at their school of origin or the school whose attendance area they are in,” district spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. “This is critical to provide stability in the child’s life and enables them to have a safe place to learn.”