The number of homeless schoolchildren in Arizona has surpassed 25,000, an increase of nearly 18 percent in the past year.
Education officials say the rise is driven by the soaring rate of unemployment and foreclosures.
In the 2007-08 school year, Arizona had the nation’s seventh-largest homeless-student population. Since then, unemployment rose, foreclosures climbed and 4,000 more students statewide became homeless.
Statistics show that about two-thirds of the state’s homeless students live in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
To help give homeless students a minimum level of stability, districts and charter schools are racing to meet the July 10 deadline to apply for a federal stimulus grant.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided Arizona $1.9 million to give homeless children as young as preschool age equal access to free public education.
So far, 25 of the 187 eligible K-12 districts and charter schools have been awarded funds.