Child homelessness declining in Duval, St. Johns Schools

Teens fighting child homelessness

Action News Jax obtained new statistics concerning child homelessness in Duval and St. Johns Counties.

In Duval County, there were 3,384 in the 2017-2018 school year. As of today, there are 2,746 in the 2018-2019 school year.

In St. Johns County there were 876 homeless students in the 2017-2018 school year and 662 homeless children as of today in the 2018-2019 school year.

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While the total number of homeless children last school year is higher than the present number this school year, the year over year comparison in St. Johns County shows a slight increase.

Since our story aired Wednesday, Action News Jax obtained more statistics from the St. Johns County School District, which show there were 45 fewer total homeless children at the same point in time last year, 617, on January 30, 2018.

Action News Jax reporter Ryan Nelson spoke to a group of student leaders who are working to end child homelessness through their efforts with the ‘I’m a STAR Foundation.’

The student-led nonprofit organization works to raise money and resources for children without access to food, water or shelter in Duval County. They tell Action News Jax they’ve raised more than $126,000 since 2012.

“People try to undermine us as students,” said student Robbi Jones. “…thinking that we won’t be able to do it. But no matter, we can do it just as much as they can.”

While they’re encouraged by the trend, about 2.1% of Duval County students and 1.6% of St. Johns County students are considered homeless.

“If they don’t live in a place where they can get enough rest,” said student Bria Clark. “… and they can’t have sufficient food, how are they supposed to have the energy to do well in school?”

Executive director and founder of I’m a STAR, Betty Burney, tells Action News Jax economic turmoil forces many children into homeless.

“So many of the students that are homeless, a lot of it has to do with the fact that their parents lost their jobs,” said Burney.

DCPS also tells Action News Jax their ‘Families in Transition Program’ has been influential in keeping children facing homelessness in the classroom.