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Homeless Students on the Rise [AUDIO]

Once the final bell rings, where do all the children go? According to 2011-2012 numbers from the National Center for Homeless Education, there were 1.2 million homeless U.S. public school students nationwide, from preschool through high school.

Flickr User elizaIO

Living in cars, motels, shelters, and jumping from one couch to the next, the number of students with no real place to call home has jumped by more than 70 percent since the start of the recession.

Barbara Duffield, Policy Director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, said the struggling economy has created a gap between the number of people who need affordable housing and the amount that’s available.

“People get evicted, they lose jobs. They’re fleeing domestic violence because things get tense at home during tough economic times,” Duffield explained.

The homeless life, she added, adds many barriers to a student’s education. A typical school day is much different.

“These are students who are worrying about where they’re going to eat next, where they’re going to sleep next,” Duffield said. “So it’s very difficult to focus in the classroom.”

Homelessness has also become a bigger problem on the higher education level. Nearly 60,000 college applicants indicated they were homeless when filling out financial aid forms in 2013.

Duffield said school isn’t only a safety net for children; it’s their path to a better life.

“If they don’t get an education, then they’re not going to get the jobs that allow them to afford housing as adults,” said Duffield.

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