By Rich Miller
[Chicago Coalition for the Homeless] ran a statewide survey in December 2013 that asked public school districts and Regional Offices of Education to respond about the level of services reaching children and teens identified as homeless students. Sixty-seven percent responded – 36 of 54 sub-grantees under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Key findings include:
· 52% responded that more than half of their homeless students do not receive needed tutoring or access to preschool.
· 56% said that less than half of homeless students received counseling
· 44% said their staffing capacity to identify and enroll homeless students is limited or very limited
· 21% responded that less than half of homeless students get transportation assistance to get to and from school
The Illinois State Board of Education has proposed to restore $3 million in FY15 state funding for grants to school districts for services to homeless students, but the proposal must still be approved by the Governor and the state legislature. Funding was awarded for only one year, during FY09, though homeless enrollment in schools across Illinois has risen 109% over the past five years.