There were nearly 40,000 homeless students enrolled in school in Washington State in 2016 according to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. This represents a 90% increase in seven years. Homeless students are defined as children and youths who lack a fixed, adequate, nighttime residence suitable for human beings. These are kids who couch surf with friends, live in motels, campgrounds, cars, parks, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations and emergency shelters.
The Peninsula School District, which serves Gig Harbor, has identified 149 homeless students of various ages enrolled in school. Peninsula School district does not count students who are couch surfing as homeless, therefore the number of homeless students in Gig Harbor is greater than reported numbers.
Homeless students are difficult to recognize because, like most kids their age, they want to fit in and look like everyone else. They look like any other student and go largely unnoticed. One can imagine the difficulty a student must have attempting to appear like nothing is wrong when she or he has no place to live, store their clothes or study
Homeless students’ grades usually suffer and they often end up dropping out. They are at increased risk of many other social ills. At that awkward age when kids are most vulnerable, lack of a place to call home is often a devastating blow.