Rural districts in Kansas are seeing an increase in homeless students but lack the services and resources needed to help those students and their families, according to a recent story by Kansas City’s public radio station, KCUR.
In several rural districts in the state, the number of homeless students has increased rapidly since 2008, with some districts seeing a nearly 300 percent increase. According to the article, many of these rural areas lack health-care access, transportation, and homeless shelters, and are unable to provide resources that may be available to homeless families in more urban areas.
Between 2012 and 2013, the number of homeless children increased by 8 percent nationwide. About 2.5 million children are homeless, which is a historic high, according to a recent report by The National Center on Family Homelessness. About 9 percent of people who are homeless live in rural areas, but the authors of the report estimate that it may be much higher and is often linked to poverty. Across the country, rural schools are serving increasing numbers of low-income students.
“Children in rural areas are among the most hidden homeless children and may not be fully represented in this report,” the authors wrote. “Rural housing may further obscure the scope of the problem. Limited availability of and access to shelters and services...increase the likelihood that homeless people living in rural areas are doubling-up with relatives and friends.”
In rural Kansas, many churches have stepped in to run food banks and provide backpacks filled with food to homeless children. A recent story by Al Jazeera detailed efforts to help homeless people in rural Missouri, which are also largely led by individuals and ministries.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.