How K-12 schools can support homeless youth

Homeless youth may struggle to be successful in their K-12 education. This qualitative research study explored how educators can support K-12 students that are homeless or at risk of being homeless. Four homeless youth were asked four questions: how far did they get in school, what helped them school, what hurt them in school, and what do they wish they had had in school. Descriptive analysis was used to look for themes throughout the interviews. Common themes from the interviews included positive mentors, individual attention, normalcy, flexibility, multiple school attendance, and the transition from K-12 to the real world. Findings suggested that educators can support homeless youth in three important ways: by becoming an advocate for their students, by giving individual attention, and by being flexible in their classroom policies. This research is important because educators, administrators, local government, church, rotary groups, or local service groups could benefit by knowing more about realities of homeless youth, and they can use this information to inform their practice. Keywords: education, homeless, K-12, support, teachers, youth