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Student homelessness is on the rise in region

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While student homelessness in the region may be on the rise over the last decade, school officials say they are getting better at identifying homeless children and providing them resources.

Maureen Bourke, the Region 6 site coordinator for student homelessness through the PA Department of Education, said across the 11 county region she serves, which includes Armstrong, Blair, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Indiana, Jefferson and Potter counties, she has seen the homeless student population steadily increase.

While financial hardship and tragedies like house fires are major root causes of student displacement, Bourke said she has also seen the Marcellus Shale industry create jobs while also pricing families out of lower income housing.

“It varies from year to year as far as districts, but there has been a steady increase at least for the past four to five years that we’ve been able to solidify the data and look at the actual numbers,” Bourke said.

The number of homeless students attending public school in Pennsylvania increased by 18 percent between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years — an increase more than double the national average of 8 percent, according to statistics reported by the U.S. Department of Education.

Find the full story in this week's Tri-County Sunday.

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