NYC school attendance lags for homeless students, report finds

Local News

NEW YORK — Homeless students have long faced barriers to education and now New York City advocated are worried about their low attendance rates at school.

The average attendance rate for the first weeks of the academic year was about 75 percent, according to a new study by Advocates for Children of New York (AFC.) Last winter and spring, the overall monthly attendance rates for students in shelter were lower than those for any other student group.

The Department of Education’s shelter-based support system is insufficient, AFC Director of Learners in Temporary Housing Project Jennifer Pringle. She called for dedicated staff on the ground in shelters to connect students with schools and support networks.

“Children get one shot at a quality education, and every day a student is absent is a day of instruction they can never get back,” Pringle said.

Absenteeism isn’t a problem unique to the age of the COVID pandemic.

As of 2018, about one out of every 10 students in New York City either lived in a homeless shelter or with relatives.

When the pandemic began and students pivoted to remote learning, a lawsuit was filed to get the city to do more for homeless students.

“Supporting students and families affected by homelessness remains a priority for the DOE, and over the past two years, we have almost doubled the number of dedicated staff members working in school and shelters to over 300,” a DOE spokesperson said Monday.

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