More than 1.1 million U.S. students were homeless in the 2011-12 school year a record high, according to data released by the Department of Education.
Overall, 1,168,354 students enrolled in American preschools and K-12 schools were homeless. The number is a 10% increase from the previous year and a nearly 75% jump since the recession started.
The data, released by the department's National Center for Homeless Education, actually underestimates how many U.S. children are homeless because infants and toddlers, as well as young children who are not enrolled in public preschool programs, are not counted. Also, older children not enrolled in school, who have dropped out or run away are not captured by the Department of Education's data.
Most states reported a year-to-year increase in homeless students, and 10 reported jumps of 20% or more between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. In Maine and North Carolina, the increases were as high as 53%. Only eight states (Oregon, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, New Jersey and Connecticut) reported drops in the number of homeless students.
The government data follows a Census report that showed an estimated one in four children under age 18 in the U.S., or 16.1 million, lived in poverty in 2012. That report showed that the poverty rate overall and for children especially soared during the recession.
Homeless children receive assistance through local schools (such as runaway youth programs and designated homeless student liaisons) but not all are eligible under the Department of Housing and Urban Development's definition of homeless. As a result, they are unable to receive support from HUD that could help homeless families and children find affordable housing.