Online Program

Defining the grey area: Improving our understanding of PIT and school definitions of homelessness

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Samantha Green, MSc, Applied Survey Research, Oakland, CA
Senate bill S. 2653, the Homeless Children and Youth Act, hopes to amend the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to redefine homelessness to include children, youth and families who are temporarily sharing the housing of another person due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or other similar reason as well as those staying in the room of a motel or hotel.

This definitional change will bring the fedeal definition of homelessness more in line with that used by schools and school based programs. Roughly 75% of children registered as homeless through local school systems fall outside the federal definition of homelessness used in Point-in-Time Count data, as they are doubled-up or temporarily residing with others.  This means that these families and children exist outside of national estimates of homelessness reported in the AHAR (Annual Homeless Assessment Report).

Applied Survey Research has worked with school distrcits to improve data collected on unaccompanied children and youth in Point-in-Time counts by using existing data systems, school staff and telephone interviews to determined where families and children are residing on the night of local Point-in-Time counts. Essentially validating the child or family's homeless status for thier inclustion or exclusion in the Point-inTime Count.

Using data collected during the 2015 Point-in-Time count, this presentation explores the relationship between school-based data and the existing Point-in-Time Count definitions.  The study explores Point-in-Time Count data collected on children and families registered with local school districts in multiple California counties to explore how the current definitions differ from one another, how seasonality and time affect school data and challenges to future data collection many communities will be presented with if the act passes.  Finally, we will assess how this definitional change may affect the overall number of families and children experiencing homelessness reported at the national level.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Assess the relationship between the number of homeless students reported by schools and those reported in local Point-in-Time Count data Explain how improved Point-in-Time Count data can illuminate the differences in definitions Discuss what this data means for the proposed definitional change in S. 2653: Homeless Children and Youth Act

Keyword(s): Homelessness, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked to address the limitations of Point in Time data collection for the past 5 years, specifically data related to subpopulations such as families, children and youth. I have performed the data collection and analysis this paper is based on, helping communities work with schools and collect information on the number of children experiencing homelessness on a given night.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.