Large growth of homeless students in Yakima

Large growth of homeless students in Yakima »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- As the temperatures continue to drop, our local homeless shelters see more people coming off the streets to escape the cold weather.

KIMA learned that a growing number of our homeless are actually children. Yakima school district has seen a significant jump in homeless students the past few years.

Mauricio Roldedo considers himself lucky to have a place to go home to every night. It's something not all of his friends are as fortunate to have.

"I think about it, it's sad for them not to have a home and nothing that we can have," said Roldedo.

Yakima School District has seen an increasing number of students without a permanent home. Making the normal challenges of childhood even more difficult, without having the basic necessities.

School officials work hard to fix that.

"Every child needs an equal opportunity and they're situation, which in this case being homeless, should not be a barrier held against them," said Theresa Laffey, Yakima's Homeless Education Liaison.

Yakima schools provide free meals, school supplies, clothing, tutoring, and fee waivers for extra-curricular activities for these students. They also arrange for their transportation to school.

KIMA dug up the numbers and found a significant increase in homeless students. Raising from 171 in 2008, to 573 last school year. Officials say they announce how homeless families can register with the district, and then leave it up to the families to reach out to them.

The state has several definitions of what qualifies as a homeless student. This includes students staying at shelters, waiting for foster placement, staying in hotels, or sharing a house with others because of economic hardship.

"We can help them be a citizen and be part of the community," said Laffey.

The goal is that by providing for them now, they can continue their education and work their way out of their current situation.

"They need that stuff, they need it for them to succeed in school and just to do, to do their life, to do good," said Roldedo.

School officials say they have typically have about five to eight new students a day that register as homeless. There's more than 27,000 homeless students state wide.