The number of homeless students enrolled in Hoosier schools nearly doubled between 2008 and 2018.
According to state data, Indiana had more than 16,300 homeless students enrolled in schools last year, compared to just over 8,900 in 2008.
Fort Wayne Community Schools has the highest student enrollment in the state overall, and the second largest population of homeless students.
Spokesperson Krista Stockman says the district offers meals and transportation to any homeless student enrolled in the district, but doesn’t get money for all of the services it provides to all students.
“And when the state funding formula looks at kids, that’s not something they necessarily take into consideration,” she says.
The state’s school funding formula accounts for local poverty rates, but not homelessness specifically. Stockman says that makes food, funding and clothing donations from community members essential to serving those students throughout the year.
But Stockman says many people don’t always know what homeless students looks like, which can create challenges too.
“They’re living at grandma’s house this week, and an aunt’s house next week. You know they may not appear to be that stereotypical homeless child,” she says.
According to a state report, more than 30 school districts receive federal funding to serve about half of Indiana’s homeless students.
The report also highlights youth who are at higher risk of experiencing homelessness. It says 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+ and about 44 percent of homeless young women are pregnant or have children.