Research for Action (RFA)’s newest policy report focuses on identification of students experiencing homelessness in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Properly identifying when students are experiencing homelessness is the first step to providing them academic supports and other rights afforded by federal law. As RFA found in 2018, Pennsylvania schools have a history of under-identification. The aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to bring more families to the tipping point of homelessness and PA schools will need to support these growing numbers of students experiencing homelessness over the next few years.
In their brief, they provide some evidence of improvement in identification of students experiencing homelessness in Pennsylvania; however, rates vary by school community. Pennsylvania overall ranks only 36th out of 50 states in identification of students experiencing homelessness per school-aged children in poverty. Furthermore, The School District of Philadelphia has the lowest rate of identification of students experiencing homelessness among the 20 largest school districts in the nation -- only four students experiencing homelessness per 100 children faced with poverty).