Homeless Student Population Rises

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – There is an increase in a homeless population in the state that may surprise you. It is school-aged young people.

In fact, in less than four years, the number of homeless students in South Carolina has risen by more than 4,000.  The numbers are highest in Richland, Greenville and Pickens counties. State Superintendent of Education, Jim Rex, blames the economy.

“We’re seeing people who were living one paycheck away from not having enough to sustain their lifestyle, and unfortunately, we see that manifested in these children,” said Dr. Rex.

South Carolina is mandated by the federal government to serve homeless students through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act.

Serving those students was the focus of an all-day meeting Wednesday for new school district homeless liaisons.  The training was held at Richland School District One’s teleconference center on Lyon Street in Columbia.

The focus was to equip educators in getting a handle on statistics they say are out of control.

Representatives from the Department of Social Services, Mental Health and Head Start, along with organizations and shelters that serve the homeless attended the training.

Educators say, in addition to the federal mandate, community collaboration at the local level is one of the keys to homeless student success.