This week's newsletter:

More Than 1 in 3 High School Students Experiencing Homelessness Attempted Suicide

Homelessness at any age is traumatic. In infancy, homelessness harms babies’ health and development, which continues into early childhood. For adolescents, homelessness means hunger, instability, and extreme emotional stress. Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data from 17 states show that tragically, many high school students experiencing homelessness resort to self-harm as a response to the trauma of homelessness.

The data show that:

  • More than one in three high school students experiencing homelessness attempted suicide in the year prior to completing the YRBS. Students experiencing homelessness were 7.19 times more likely to attempt suicide compared to stably housed youth. 
  • High school students experiencing homelessness are 3.21 times more likely to have a suicide plan compared to stably housed youth.

To explore these findings further, SchoolHouse Connection asked 49 young people with homeless experiences who participate in the mentorship and leadership programs of SchoolHouse Connection and the National Network for Youth about whether they had considered suicide. 

59.18% of our young leaders reported making a suicide plan while in high school, and one in four reported a suicide attempt while in high school. 

These devastating findings are not inevitable. Schools can provide students experiencing homelessness with access to mental health support, mentorship, basic needs, and hope.

Read the Report, Take Action
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day

Educators: Let’s Listen to Students Experiencing Homelessness!

“It was a Tuesday afternoon, and I had just finished meeting with one of my students. As the case manager for Waco Independent School District’s (WISD) Homeless Outreach Services, in Waco, Texas, I met regularly with my high school students. But as I left the school campus that Tuesday, I fought the urge to cry. After visiting with the student for over an hour, I came away with an overwhelming sense of sadness and concern for that student. Mary (not her real name) was a homeless, unaccompanied teen attempting to complete her high school degree. Mary’s story is hard to hear, but it is necessary to convey so that educators can understand the impact that homelessness can have on students. So, after four years of working with students experiencing homelessness and hearing their stories, I decided to pursue a doctoral degree and conduct research that would bring the students’ voices to the attention of educators."

In this week’s guest perspective, Kathy Mustacato Wigtil, Ed.D., Baylor University, offers insights from her students and her research on how educators can better support students experiencing homelessness.

Listen and Learn

ICYMI: Back-to-School Training Resources

Training school staff is essential in order for children and youth experiencing homelessness to be identified and to receive the education that is their surest path out of homelessness and poverty. This is why one of the most important duties of the local educational agency homeless liaison is to provide professional development to school personnel. 

In response to many requests, we are pleased to offer the following resources designed for liaisons to use when training school staff:

  • Customizable powerpoints on homelessness and the McKinney-Vento Act
  • Short legal summaries
  • Tools for specific school staff, such as teachers and counselors 
  • Interview checklists for supporting school selection
Explore our Back-to-School Training Resources

Where is Team SHC? September Happenings.

September 16. Grace is going to the Young Children Experiencing Homelessness Tri-State Summit in Philadelphia, PA, sponsored by the People’s Emergency Center.

September 22-24. Jillian is participating in the Homeless Education Coordinators’ meeting in Sacramento, California, sponsored by the California Department of Education.

September 28-29. Jillian, Jordyn, and Barbara are heading to Houston to present two sessions at the annual #RealCollege convening organized by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice.
SchoolHouse Connection is a national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. We provide strategic advocacy and technical assistance in partnership with early childhood programs, schools, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth. We believe education is the only permanent solution to homelessness. Learn about us.
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