Addressing Youth Homelessness

Dear community member, 

We often talk about the importance of stability at home on a child’s education and wellness. 

The most basic component of that stability is having a consistent and sufficient home in which to live in the first place.

More than 2,700 Santa Cruz County students are currently experiencing homelessness, according to the latest data released last month by the COE’s Students in Transition Program. That is about 1 in every 14 students across TK-12, a rate 45% higher than the average statewide.

Homelessness is a significant social determinant of health, profoundly affecting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals, especially young people. It takes many forms, as defined under the McKinney-Vento Act. It includes students who are unsheltered, living in shelters, living in hotels and motels, or “doubled up” with another family in a living arrangement that does not provide fixed or adequate housing. See the table below for a breakdown of each category from our 22/23 Annual Count of Homeless Students in Schools.

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, as recognized by resolution of the Santa Cruz County Board of Education at its meeting yesterday.

Now, and always, we must continue to raise awareness about the extent of issues surrounding youth homelessness, together with solutions and existing resources. In California, students experiencing homelessness have specific rights and protections, and access to a number of resources designed to care for them and keep their education on track until they are able to establish permanent housing. Schools are a hub for these resources, partnering with other agencies to address food insecurity and other needs, including financial and legal support.

Any student experiencing homelessness or their caretaker should get in touch with their school district liaison to ensure they are accessing proper educational support. A list of all current liaisons, and information on students’ rights and available resources, can be found on our website here

Yours in education and equity,
Dr. Faris Sabbah
County Superintendent of Schools