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Jonatan’s Story

Jonatan, an immigrant student from Guatemala, needed assistance enrolling in an appropriate high school.

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Who We Serve

Students in Temporary Housing

Students in Temporary Housing and Project LIT

Advocates for Children of New York’s (AFC) Project LIT – Learners In Temporary housing, provides individual case assistance, community education, and policy advocacy to improve access to school and supports in school so that students experiencing homelessness can be successful in school and break the cycle of homelessness.

AFC has been protecting and promoting the educational rights of students experiencing homelessness for decades. In the early 1990’s, staff from AFC brought much needed attention to the impact of homelessness on children with the rise of family homeless in NYC, and for over 15 years operated the statewide homeless education technical assistance center.

Project LIT focuses on the over 100,000 students in New York City (1 in 10) who experience homelessness each year. Students who are living in a homeless shelter or other temporary housing arrangement have important rights, including the right to remain in the school they were attending before they became homeless, the right to transportation to their school, and the right to enroll in the local school and attend classes immediately, even if they don't have the documents formally needed. Youth who lack a high school diploma or equivalency are 4.5 times more likely to experience homelessness as a young adult than their peers who completed high school. Project LIT works to ensure that children and youth have the support and services they need to be successful in school and prevent future homelessness.

For more information about our work with students in temporary housing, contact Jennifer Pringle at jpringle@advocatesforchildren.org.

Policy Work

AFC conducts policy advocacy to increase school stability and expand support for students experiencing homelessness.

Note: The following manuals and reports are in PDF format and will open in a new window. To view PDF files, download the following free software: Get Adobe® Reader®.

first page of policy briefDisparities in Attendance During COVID-19
This April 2021 policy brief highlights disparities in school attendance during the pandemic, and calls on the City to invest in an ambitious Education Recovery Plan that ensures all students can receive the academic and social-emotional support they need as they return to school. The attendance provides a snapshot of student engagement during remote and blended learning, making clear that COVID-19 continues to have a disproportionate impact on marginalized student populations. While absenteeism has risen across the board this year, attendance rates are strikingly low among students living in homeless shelters, particularly at the high school level.

map of nyc students experiencing homelessness 2019-20

"New Data Show Number of NYC Students who are Homeless Topped 100,000 for Fifth Consecutive Year
In December 2020 we posted new data showing that more than 111,000 NYC students approximately one in ten children enrolled in district or charter schools—were identified as homeless during the 2019-20 school year. In the Bronx, approximately one in six students was homeless. The data, which came from the New York State Education Department, show that more than 32,700 students were living in City shelters, while approximately 73,000 were ‘doubled-up’ in temporary shared housing situations.

Earlier Policy Work

AFC also conducts policy advocacy to increase school stability and expand support for students experiencing homelessness. Recent publications include:

Gaps in Social Workers for Students Living in Shelters [PDF]
This May 2018 report documents the number of New York City schools with high concentrations of students living in shelters that do not have a social worker focused on this population. AFC’s analysis shows that the Mayor's proposed modest increase in funding falls far short of meeting the need, and calls on the City to double the number of school social workers focused on serving students living in shelters.

Recommendations for Improving School Access and Success for Rising Numbers of Students in Temporary Housing [PDF]
In March 2018, Advocates for Children and Citizens' Committee for Children of New York jointly issued recommendations for expanding support for students experiencing homelessness. The recommendations include establishing high-level Department of Education leadership, expanding the Bridging the Gap school-based social worker program, and hiring DOE social workers to provide intensive supports at shelters to address education-related issues.