The Florida Department has released its annual report on the number of homeless children in our public school systems. The state of Florida had its largest jump in homeless children in the six years that state has tracked homelessness — 30 percent from 49,112 kids for 2009-2010 to 63,685 for 2010-2011.
The state uses the federal definition which includes any child who lacks a regular, fixed, adequate nighttime residence. Schools use the same standard for years to get needy students extra services.
Escambia County has 1,423 homeless children which is up from 1,237 — a 15 percent increase. Santa Rosa County has even more– 1,651 children that are homeless, up from 1,328. That’s a 24 percent increase.
Poverty is one of those issues that no local elected official wants to address, but it continues to grow despite all the economic development efforts. Experts are citing one of the primary reasons for homelessness being foreclosures (During the third quarter, Florida posted the nation’s highest foreclosure rate). Some estimate that three-quarters of the families in the report are homeless because either unemployment or underemployment (Parents working part-time, low-paying positions to replace what were once full-time jobs).