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homeless children

Photo courtesy Tampa Bay 2-1-1

Students who are considered homeless by Florida schools can be living in hotels, trailer parks, in campgrounds or doubled up with friends or relatives. And with as many as 71,000 or more homeless students in the state the challenges can extend beyond the kids and families to include the schools.

For most kids school is a place of achievement and learning, or just a place to socialize with friends. But for kids without stable living arrangements it can mean much more than that.

M.S. Butler

When it comes to children, the definition of homeless includes more children than you may think.

Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act children and youth who "lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence are considered homeless." That means children who are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds -- or doubled-up with relatives or friends  --are homeless, as well as those who stay in shelters, on the street or in abandoned buildings.

M.S Butler

Florida's Department of Children and Families said in 2014  there were at least 5,700 homeless people under the age of 18 in our state. Some of them teenagers living on their own. But there's one group that makes up a disproportionate amount of homeless teens in Florida and throughout the nation.

They've been called street kids, couch surfers or as St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said back in March: “There is a federal bureaucratic term for the young people who will be served here—unaccompanied youth. But they are in reality homeless.”

M.S Butler

A Hillsborough County project to help teens is expanding across the bay with the help of some well known local dignitaries.
 

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman and others broke ground Tuesday on what will soon will be a residential facility for homeless teens in Pinellas County.

The project, funded through private donations, comes from the efforts of Start Right Now a program working to end homelessness for area teens.

 Vicki Sokolik  is the founder and executive director.

A record number of homeless students are attending Florida schools according to new numbers released by the U.S. Department of Education. Almost 70,000 kids in the state were homeless during the 2012-2013 school year, a 10 percent increase compared to the national average of 8 percent.

However, most of those kids are not recognized as homeless by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which acts as a clearinghouse for many social services available to the homeless.