U of M study: Chronic absenteeism of area homeless children highest in Flint and Saginaw

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SAGINAW (WJRT) (12/06/2018) - Getting students to show up for class is one of the single most important factors determining success in school. .

But a new study by the University of Michigan finds the state has the sixth highest statewide chronic absenteeism rate in the country.

In total, one out of every six students in public or charter schools miss at least 10 percent of school days. Poverty and homelessness are major reasons why.

A young mom who stayed at a shelter for about seven months when she moved back to Michigan faced a variety of challenges getting her kids to school regularly during the transition.

The 33-year-old mother of two at the time recalled getting her autistic 9-year-old with ADHD ready for school every day at 5:30 a.m.

"You're trying to keep him quiet so no one else in the house wakes up," said Jamie Hartley.

Bus pick up only was available from the shelter early in the morning.

"Well when I first enrolled him in school, they would enroll him in school but they told me there was a month wait to get him on the bus," Hartley said.

She had moved back to Michigan in February to escape an abusive relationship. She reached out to the homeless liaison for Saginaw Public Schools to get her son on the bus, losing only two days of school instead of 30.

Hartley credits the Mustard Seed shelter with acting as an advocate on her behalf.

"Really lucky," she said. "Don't know where I'd be without them today."

Not everyone is so lucky. The University of Michigan study reveals that homeless students in Flint have a chronic absenteeism rate of 67 percent and a rate of 59 percent in Saginaw.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Amy Bartels Roe, the executive director of the Mustard Seed shelter. "Maybe some kinks that need to be worked out in the system, with our homeless liaisons."

Federal law requires all school districts in the state to have liaisons available to make sure homeless children have transportation to and from work.

Bartels Roe said parents should never be afraid to ask for help. Shelters like theirs will make sure kids get into school.

See Related Links on the right side of this story for study results from Mid-Michigan school districts.



 
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