Washington, D.C. – West Virginia’s senior senator in the nation’s Capitol said he is disturbed by the number of homeless students in his home state.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) sent a letter to the Department of Education Secretary DeVos urging her to address the increase in child homelessness in West Virginia. In the letter, Manchin outlined concerning statistics regarding child homelessness increases in West Virginia in the past year and asked her to come to West Virginia to see firsthand how it’s impacting West Virginia children.
“I am reaching out to you today to raise awareness about some very disturbing news concerning the increase in the number of homeless children and youth in West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Education reported more than 10,000 children and youth have been identified as homeless for the 2018-2019 school year. We must come together and find solutions to help our local education agencies address this issue.”
Manchin’s letter comes on the heels of a July report from the West Virginia Department of Education was released that explained the homeless student count in the Mountain State.
“The United States Department of Education currently provides resources for LEAs to address homelessness through the McKinney-Vento program and through a Title-I, Part A set aside. Unfortunately, not enough of these resources are making it to the schools and the children that need them most. Of the 55 counties in West Virginia, only 8 counties applied for and received portions of the McKinney-Vento funding. While all counties utilize the Title I set-aside, the amount varies from $500 to $50,000. These folks are already stretched thin on the front lines and need additional help from you and your team to solve this problem.”
Manchin asked DeVos about the DOE was doing to educate local school districts about the availability of McKinney-Vento funds.
Passed by Congress in 1987, the McKinney-Vento Act ensures students have the right to go to school even when they are homeless or don’t have a permanent address.
“As we prepare for the mark-up of the FY20 Department of Education budget in the Senate Appropriations Committee, it’s also important to hear from you on whether or not you have the resources you need to support the local officials on the front lines in states like West Virginia? Congress provided $2.64 million in FY19 for McKinney-Vento programs. How much do you need for FY20?” Manchin’s letter continued.
Manchin also invited DeVos to the state to see how homelessnees is impacting families. He is concerned about the increasing number of homeless children.
“Our local officials on the ground are working tirelessly to ensure every student is on the same playing field, but that is challenged even further by the increase of children experiencing homelessness. I believe it would be extraordinarily beneficial for you to meet directly with the folks on the ground working with these children every day,” Manchin wrote.
According to the Marion County School District, there are 76 students identified as homeless during the current school year.