Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner Calls for Immediate Action to Address Chronic Absenteeism of Homeless School Children

Faced with a crisis level of chronic absenteeism of Bronx school children living in homeless shelters, Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx, 77th AD) is urging local and state leaders to take “immediate action” to enhance efforts to meet the needs of those children. Saying that the growth of homelessness in New York City has too often left our most vulnerable New Yorkers without access to the educational resources needed to succeed, Assemblywoman Joyner is also calling for the development of homeless-specific educational interventions – an essential part of “effectively responding” to the City’s ongoing housing crisis.

“The effect of homelessness on children who are striving to learn in school is one of the most devastating impacts of the growing reliance on shelters for housing,” Assemblywoman Joyner said. “In the last four years, one out of every nine New York City school students has experienced homelessness and as recently as October 2015 there were an estimated 23,800 children living in homeless shelters throughout New York City.

“There are far reaching educational consequences when children are being raised in a shelter system that often falls short of providing the nurturing and encouraging environment they need to succeed,” Assemblywoman Joyner said. “Every child has the right to the best possible education and we need to take immediate action to ensure that New York’s educational system makes good on that promise.”

The impact is most clearly seen in the dramatic level of chronic absenteeism that is prevalent among school children living in shelters. Most recently chronic absenteeism has reached 42.4% of homeless Bronx students, according to the latest report by the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness.

“In my own district, Bronx Community School District 9, we have the highest rate of homelessness in the entire City with fully 18% of the student body experiencing homelessness during the 2013-14 school year and it’s had a significant impact on academic performance,” Assemblywoman Joyner said. “By using targeted programs that focus on reducing the number of empty seats in classrooms, we can bolster graduation rates, enhance test scores and improve educational success.”

“By more effectively integrating the programs and resources of the New York City Department of Education, the Department of Homeless Services and the Human Resources Administration in a holistic approach and utilizing after school programming focused on the needs and interests of homeless students we can achieve results that will benefit many of our children,” Assemblywoman Joyner said.