Housing insecurity is by far the greatest predictor of students’ chronic absenteeism from school.
Researchers have issued many reports about the adverse effects of homelessness—such as this particularly extensive report in Michigan. It notes that:
Unhoused students have the highest rates of chronic absenteeism of any group. Forty percent of them were chronically absent in this 2018 study, two-and-a-half times higher than the statewide average.
Income is also associated with chronic absenteeism. Economically disadvantaged students were chronically absent at three times the rate of their higher-income peers.
Students who are chronically absent are less likely to meet grade-level standards and more likely to drop out of school.
Even when children are able to make it to school, homelessness and housing instability are widely recognized as determinants of academic success. That’s because other factors—such as unaffordability, crowding, and poor maintenance—can also adversely affect student performance. The impacts on learning extend from early childhood and kindergarten all the way through college.
The current situation
While homelessness and housing insecurity affecting school-age children is not a new issue, its urgency is growing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more frequent natural disasters.
The pandemic poses a threat to housing affordability and quality, particularly for families and children of color. Black and Latinx adults are reporting higher rates of income loss and missed rent or mortgage payments—but the ongoing nature of the crisis makes it hard to gather data about the repercussions.
Millions of children are affected by natural disasters every year. Their frequency, intensity, and severity are all increasing, expanding their harmful effects. In the 10-year period from 2010 to 2019, 119 disasters in the United States met or exceeded $1 billion in damages and costs, affecting children’s homes, schools, and communities.
Beyond the immediate trauma and harm caused by natural disaster exposure, children also may suffer longer-term physical, psychological, and educational deficits. After Hurricane Katrina, for examples, an estimated 196,000 public school students in Louisiana had to change schools, and approximately 50,000 students did not attend school during the remainder of the academic year.
Further, trauma exposure can alter brain anatomy and functioning, inhibiting learning and memory processes—and both long-term homelessness and natural disasters can be traumatic.
How mobile messaging powered by artificial intelligence can help
Children and their families who face either chronic housing insecurity or an unexpected change in their living arrangements due to events like the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters—like Hurricane Ida, which left 1 million people without power in Louisiana and displaced tens of thousands from their homes—need every tool at our disposal.
In an era when the problem of chronic absenteeism is growing more serious due to evolving and unique circumstances, AllHere offers a simple, powerful solution to help families overcome barriers and ensure their children are present and engaged in learning, wherever that learning is happening.
To maximize the effectiveness of its mobile messaging platform powered by artificial intelligence, AllHere focuses on: 1. Simplifying content and reducing the effort it takes families to access support. 2. Personalizing information for recipients to make the communication more effective and increase academic impact. 3. Paying attention to the whole child and providing families with resources and support.
“What’s changing outcomes is our emphasis on outreach to families, restorative messaging, strategic timing, and 24/7 unlimited support with any barrier to their child’s attendance,” said Joanna Smith, AllHere’s Founder and CEO.
AllHere’s AI-powered platform for automated outreach represents a universal strategy for encouraging attendance in all students. It’s an innovative, novel, and evidence- based solution that increases student participation in school, reduces the dropout rate, and builds engagement with all families, regardless of whether they have a permanent mailing address and secure housing.