The Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) is partnering with YWCA Seattle/King/Snohomish to provide support for students in Seattle Public Schools (SPS) experiencing homelessness or housing instability. DEEL announced today that more than $400,000 from the voter-approved Families, Education, Preschool and Promise (FEPP) levy will be invested into the YWCA to develop programs that provide a rapid and culturally responsive approach to housing services for families experiencing homelessness.
Research shows that students experiencing homelessness or housing instability—whether living in hotels/motels, in shelters, unsheltered, or doubled up—have significantly lower academic outcomes than their housed peers.
Statewide, students experiencing homelessness (including doubled-up students) have a 62% attendance rate, compared to an 86% attendance rate for their housed peers. Further, three in four students experiencing homelessness do not meet the proficiency level on state math assessments and have a four-year graduation rate that is more than 25 percentage points lower than their housed peers (55% versus 81%). Student mobility is greater for homeless students as well. During the 2015-16 school year, 10% of Seattle School District’s students experiencing homelessness changed schools compared to only 3% of stably housed students.
“We know that homelessness and housing instability significantly impact a student’s ability to thrive in school. We must do more to help our students and families experiencing homelessness, and we must ensure our programs are culturally responsive and work to break down systemic barriers,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “This investment is an important step to help some of the most vulnerable students in our schools, and to end youth homelessness in our region.”
This year’s Point in Time count found that nearly 1,100 youth and young adults (YYA) were experiencing homelessness across King County, which represents a 28% decrease over 2018. Data shows that 32% of YYA identified themselves as having been involved in the foster care system, 34% identified as LGBTQ, and YYA reported higher rates of psychiatric or emotional conditions than adults experiencing homelessness.
“The challenge of finding housing disrupts the lives of students and their families. Some students who leave school when their families are homeless do not come back,” said DEEL Director Dwane Chappelle. “These funds, and our work with the YWCA, are intended to ensure that during a period of disruption and instability, students have the support and services they need to remain in school.”
YWCA Seattle/King/Snohomish will use these funds to develop a program that will:
- Secure permanent housing for Seattle Public Schools (SPS) families experiencing homelessness or housing instability;
- Improve attendance among SPS students experiencing homelessness;
- Increase school stability—reducing the number of times a student transfers schools in a year; and
- Prevent SPS families with unstable housing from becoming homeless.
“Supporting students effected by the homeless crisis will take all of us. Enhanced YWCA supports including secure, permanent housing for SPS families will make a world of difference,” said Seattle Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau. “This is just one more example of how the City’s levy FEPP helps provide stability, consistency, and predictability so students can benefit from a great education in Seattle Public Schools.”
This program will deliver specialized services for youth and their families, from case management to housing search assistance, through a culturally relevant lens. A YWCA Youth Advocate will work closely with participants to identify and assess their needs, strengths, and goals, and help students connect to programs that will support their attendance, academic success, and overall well-being.
“We’re grateful to be selected for this award, which will strengthen YWCA’s work to restore housing stability and economic independence for families, while increasing our services for Seattle Public Schools students who face homelessness,” said Chief Program Officer, Patricia Hayden.
YWCA Seattle/King/Snohomish is committed to gender and racial equity in housing, economic advancement, health, and safety, with programs that center those who are furthest from opportunity. YWCA has provided critical services for families in Seattle since 1894 and has 125 years of experience delivering the tools and resources they need to thrive, from emergency shelter to permanent housing.
DEEL’s mission is to transform the lives of Seattle’s children, youth, and families through strategic investments in education.