More than 65,000 homeless children fail to regularly attend school because they do not have transportation, clothes or the proper motivation, the Education Department said, raising fears of a "generation of lost children."
"Our fears are confirmed," Education Secretary Lauro Cavazos said Friday in sending the report to Congress. "Each school day thousands of young people are losing their best opportunity for a better life - education."Cavazos said the statistics should be "viewed with caution" because of difficulties by state educational agencies in gathering the data - required under a 1987 law - the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act.
"Of course the numbers aren't precise," said Cavazos, "but they are certainly an indication. They point to a segment of our nation that is in urgent need. Whatever the number, we cannot accept another generation of lost children."
The report estimated there were 220,000 school-age homeless children in America last year, including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
Los Angeles reported the greatest number of homeless children and youth at 12,250, followed by New York City with 10,169.
The number of homeless children in some other cities included Chicago, 10,000; Minneapolis, 5,055; Houston, 3,106; Phoenix, 3,104; Kansas City, Mo., 3,023; St. Paul, Minn., 2,757; San Francisco, 2,750; Portland, 2,416; St. Louis, 2,399; Albuquerque, 2,334; Dayton, Ohio, 2,181; and Cincinnati, 2,178.
About 67,000 children were reported not to be attending school. Reasons given for not going to class included a preoccupation by parents with finding housing, food and employment, delays in the transfer of school records, lack of money for clothes and school supplies, lack of motivation and discouragement.
The report showed about 84,617 homeless children attending elementary schools - 44,747 in middle and junior high schools, 58,338 in high school and another 32,952 not specified.
There are 33,119 homeless preschool children, the report said.