The Role of Schools in Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness: Perceptions of School Staff

M. Alex Wagaman, Maurice N. Gattis, Keith J. Watts, Mauricio P. Yabar, Dmitri Blair, Tiffany S. Haynes, Elaine G. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Housing instability has a detrimental impact on the academic success of children and youth. Despite having federal policy to direct schools on how to identify and support students experiencing homelessness, many schools still face challenges to developing a systemwide approach that involves school staff in varying positions and addresses the unique needs of disproportionately impacted student populations. This study was conducted using secondary data analysis of a data set collected through participatory action research in a mid-Atlantic state across three school systems. Findings suggest that school staff are largely unaware of their own role in supporting students experiencing homelessness and need further training. Schools need more resources and community connections to support the needs of their students who are facing housing instability. The study suggests that a systems theory approach to understanding and responding to the needs of students experiencing homelessness will equip schools and their staff to be better positioned to effectively provide support that promotes academic achievement and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Schools
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 National Association of Social Workers.


  • McKinney-Vento
  • homelessness
  • schools
  • youth homelessness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education


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