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Homeless students in Washington tops 27,000

The number of homeless students in Washington state schools has topped 27,000, according to a new study done by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction's office.

According to the study, 27,390 students were reported as homeless during the 2011-2012 school year, up 5.1 percent form the year before and a 46.7 percent increase from 2007-2008.

A total of 10 children in the Mercer Island School District were considered homeless during the 2011-2012 school year. That number is up from eight in 2010-2011.

The practice of collecting and reporting homeless numbers is a requirement of the federal Mc-Kinney-Vento Act, while applies to all homeless children and youth.

The reasons for a student's homelessness vary among districts, but largely is related to economic factors. While funding for services to help such students has been cut, districts do say there is better reporting.

The McKinney-Vento Act defines a student as homeless if the student lives in: emergency or transitional shelters, motels, hotels, trailer parks or camp ground, shared housing due to loss of a house or economic hardship, hospitals secondary to abandonment or awaiting foster care, cars, parks, public spaces and other substandard housing, public or private place not usually used as sleeping accommodations.

Washington receives about $950,000 a year in federal funding to help homeless students. Money is given to districts as grants, with larger amounts going to districts with the greatest need.

To learn more, visit the OSPI website.

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