WASHINGTON - For children facing homelessness, sometimes school can be the most stable, safe place in their lives.
A new report, released Thursday by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, shows the number of kids in that situation in our community is growing.
The new data, taken during the 2016-17 school year, shows 40,934 students were counted as homeless.
That's the largest number ever reported in Washington, and makes last school year the 9th year in a row that the population of homeless students has increased.
The state defines a student experiencing homelessness as one that does not have a fixed, regular, or adequate place to stay at night.
Of the almost 40,000 kids experiencing homelessness, only 2,753 were reported to be living 'unsheltered.' The rest are staying in shelters, hotels, or with friends.
In Spokane Public Schools,1,387 kids are without a stable home.
That's compared to 1,149 in Everett, 1,013 in Vancouver, and 853 in Yakima.
Only two districts--Tacoma and Seattle--showed higher numbers of homeless youth than Spokane.
Tacoma Public Schools has 1,783 students experiencing homelessness, and Seattle Public Schools has 4,280.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction's office says specific reasons for the increase are difficult to determine on a statewide level.
The office said some local factors that may contribute include a lack of affordable housing, a reduction in homeless services, or unemployment.
To help students struggling with permanent housing, Spokane Public Schools has the HEART or 'Homeless Education And Resource Team' that works to help provide transportation, communicate with teachers, and connect kids with homeless resources.
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