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Homelessness Comes to

School   

by Joseph Murphy and Kerri Tobin, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2011, 320 pp. with index, $42.95 softcover

Books Homelessness

We all need a place to call home, yet school-aged children in homeless families and independent homeless youth represent the fastest-growing population of homeless individuals in the United States. The longer this state persists, the more prone children are to social isolation, health problems and victimization.

In Homelessness Comes to School, Joseph Murphy and Kerri Tobin comprehensively outline the demographic, socio-historical and psychological challenges that homeless youth face.

Murphy and Tobin acknowledge that homelessness is a complex and multilayered phenomenon. Nevertheless, they argue that schools are not doing enough to provide these vulnerable students a safe and secure environment and appropriate instructional and extracurricular support. All school personnel ought to know of the legal protections provided to homeless children under the 1997 McKinney-Vento Act. Also crucial is for schools, parents and community agencies to work together to support and educate homeless students.

This book is the most comprehensive analysis of homeless youth that exists and offers some specific guidelines for teaching homeless students. Educators need to attend to students’ basic needs; create an effective instructional program; develop a stable and supportive environment; collaborate with other agencies and organizations; and promote parent involvement.

Murphy and Tobin remind us that developing interventions for these students at risk must be a priority for service providers and policymakers alike. In highlighting the issue of youth homelessness, the authors have initiated a long-required conversation that may make progress in addressing the outstanding needs of our homeless young people.

Reviewed by Valerie A. Storey, director of graduate programs in educational leadership, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.

 

 

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