Friday, August 11, 2017

[Solano County] School district says doubled homeless youth count in grand jury report is correct

FAIRFIELD — Homeless youth are accurately counted, the Fairfield-Suisun School District says in a draft response to the 2016-17 Solano County grand jury report that stated the number of homeless students in the district nearly doubled in one year when almost 500 more youths were identified.
School district trustees meeting Thursday take up the draft response by Superintendent Kris Corey.
The grand jury, in its report released June 16, said school districts in the county presented conflicting statistics in reporting the number of homeless youth and recommended all data be verifiable.
Corey’s draft response to Robert Fracchia, president judge of the Solano County Superior Court, also agrees with the grand jury report that teacher training in identifying and reporting homeless students is a low priority. However, she said administrative and staff training in that effort is a higher priority.
As a result, the district identified nearly 500 additional homeless students during the 2015-16 school year, Corey said.
The 950 homeless students in the Fairfield-Suisun School District was nearly double the 492 for the 2014-15 school year.
The Vacaville School District reported 237 homeless students in the 2015-16 school year and 138 the previous year. The Vallejo City School District said 295 homeless youth were identified, compared to 139 in 2014-15.
Travis School District said the number of homeless youth declined by eight students to 264 in 2015-16.
The Fairfield-Suisun numbers were higher because the district better captures counts of homeless youths up to 3 years old due to Family Resource Centers at some schools, the grand jury report noted.
Training in reporting homeless youth is mostly for principals and registrars and varies by district, the grand jury report also said.
“Their success in identifying homeless youth lies in their questioning skills and identifying addresses that should send up read flags – hotels, shared lodging,” the report stated.
“Local districts have grown in their ability to identify homeless students in the area,” the grand jury said.
An amendment expanded the federal law defining homeless to go beyond individuals who lacked a fixed nighttime residence to include those who share housing to include students living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or campgrounds due to lack of alternative accommodations, the grand jury added.
No across-the-board system exists for identifying homeless youth but sites the grand jury toured tended to use proof of residency documents, anecdotal information and home visits, the grand jury said.
Fairfield-Suisun School District officials are putting in place a grand jury recommendation for teachers to receive intensive training in identifying homeless students.
The school district will not follow a grand jury recommendation for Solano County to provide emergency housing for homeless teenage students.
Such housing is a service school districts do not provide, Corey stated in her draft response.
The district will continue to work with the Solano County Office of Education, city administrators and local nonprofits to identify resources for homeless teenage students, the superintendent said.
Emergency housing is now limited to pregnant teens, the grand jury said.
August 9, 2017
Fairfield Daily Republic
By Ryan McCarthy

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