Sunday, March 1, 2015

Children in Poverty and Homelessness in Whatcom County School Districts and WA state: A Look at the Numbers and Sources

"It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex."
Article IX Section 1 SECTION 1 PREAMBLE.
Constitution of the State of Washington

Click to Enlarge.

DName Tot_District_ _Pop District_Enrollment ChildinDistrict ChildPov OSPI_K-12 Homeless PCT_Poverty PCT_Homeless
Bellingham 104767 11136 12340 1908 471 15.46% 4.23%
Blaine 16388 2120 2380 420 49 17.65% 2.31%
Concrete 4921 542 717 168 26 23.43% 4.80%
Ferndale 31180 5174 5885 912 126 15.50% 2.44%
Lynden 18863 2842 3612 397 58 10.99% 2.04%
Meridian 10032 1790 1630 249 41 15.28% 2.29%
MountBaker 14724 1880 2573 515 52 20.02% 2.77%
NooksackValley 10317 1574 1996 304 49 15.23% 3.11%
Sedro-Woolley 26646 4305 4491 745 173 16.59% 4.02%
Totals 237,838 31,363 35,624 5,618 1,045 15.77% 3.33%
The chart and table above aggregate 2013 SAIPE Poverty and Income Data with 2013-2014 (School Year) OSPI Student Homeless Data for the 9 School Districts that are in whole or in part inside Whatcom County. Zoom your browser window to enlarge this table.
Some statistical projects are gratifying to work on . This one really was not.  Poverty brackets are exceptionally low household income numbers.  The federal poverty rate for a family of four with two children is less than $24K.  Although the largest school district (Bellingham) in Whatcom County has the highest number school children in poverty in total, the percentage of children in poverty in the more rural school districts is much higher. The data in the post below comes from SAIPE or Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates and OSPI  Homeless Student Data Report for 2013 and 2014.  In the charts below, I detail homelessness and poverty for Whatcom County school children based on SAIPE school district estimates. Code for the charts  can be found here and here.

As a data blogger, I can't vouch for the integrity of the data collections I analyze nor can I provide solutions for the tragedy  of homelessness and poverty it exposes in our county. I can however, find creative ways to quantify their impacts upon our budgets, governments, school systems, communities and  families. I also can point out that a housed and fed population of school children is a not just the moral responsibility of a just world but the duty and mandate of all us and our constructed democratic governments. 

 I can scarcely believe that any of us could imagine all of the deficits poverty and homelessness create for youth in pursuit of their education.  In a state that specifically included the education of children as a 'paramount duty' to be exercised without regard to caste, one could speculate on whether or not a county that does not build adequate affordable housing and provide adequate food banks is interfering with the mandates of McCleary to provide for a "basic education" to all students.

Notes on the Data

All the school district data is for 2013 and/or 2014 for both OSPI and SAIPE.  In places, I have aggregated SAIPE 2013 data with OSPI data for the 2013 - 2014 school year. Although, this is not strictly good statistical practice, it was useful to plot in parallel data for both homelessness and poverty for school children in the same district for what is approximately the same time periods.
The SAIPE data looks at all children in these nine school districts. The OSPI looks at K- 12 enrolled children. Of the nine school districts in which Whatcom County participates, two are shared with Skagit County (Concrete and Sedro-Woolley).

To date, I have no data that allows me to separate the populations of those two school districts based on county residence. To date, I also have no method of determining if the 1,004 homeless students in those nine districts are a subset of the 5, 618 children living in poverty in those districts. Homelessness is mandated by federal law to be measured more broadly and frequently among school children in WA, than the once of a year "Point in Time" estimates frequently used across the United States. Thus, the 553 homeless individuals "counted on a single day in January" in Whatcom County [ See WCCEH, 2014]  is nearly half that of the 1,004 homeless students tracked yearly by OSPI for the nine school districts of Whatcom County.

Poverty in Whatcom County School Districts

Whatcom County shares two school districts with Skagit. (An excellent map of WA state school districts can be seen here.) Although the data I have assembled can't help me extrapolate for the those that live in the two counties explicitly, the K - 12 school child population for these nine districts is 35,363.  5,618 of those students in those nine school districts live at the poverty level or below.

  FIPS CCDID          DName TotPop Children ChildreninPoverty
1   53   420     Bellingham 104767   12340         1908
2   53   570         Blaine  16388    2380          420
3   53  1660       Concrete   4921     717          168
4   53  2850       Ferndale  31180    5885          912
5   53  4620         Lynden  18863    3612          397
6   53  5010       Meridian  10032    1630          249
7   53  5310     MountBaker  14724    2573          515
8   53  5670 NooksackValley  10317    1996          304
9   53  7740  Sedro-Woolley  26646    4491          745

Totals for all nine districts including shared districts (Concrete,Sedro-Woolley): 
      TotPop        Children   ChildreninPoverty 
      237838        35624         5618

Totals for districts solely located inside Whatcom County include Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, Meridian, Mount Baker, Nooksack Valley.:
      TotPop        Children   ChildreninPoverty 
      206271        30416         4705

Click on these charts to enlarge.

It seems very improbable that a family of four surviving off $23,624 is doing so without external support systems in this economy. As a subjective example, I added up all the different types of taxes and insurance my wife and I pay to support our family of four on a high five figure income. The total of our taxes and insurance are roughly equal to the above referenced poverty level. I think it is viable assumption that such a poverty level sabotages home ownership, health insurance, education funding, healthy food intake and other important resources for that prototypical family of four. It is also sabotages the ability of the poor to contribute to our economy and government through taxation. The reader should able to imagine the consequences of 16% poverty rates upon the health and welfare of both the general and included populations as well as the economy as a whole. Click to enlarge the chart below.

For 2013, a family of four with two children lives in Poverty if they have income of  $23,624 or less. Poverty levels and methodology links for the census can be found here.
 Here are the top 25 WA school districts in WA for children in poverty (total) and as a district percentage. There is little intersection of members to these separate lists. Clearly, the larger urban school districts as a whole have more children in poverty. Many if not most of the smaller, rural districts however have a much higher percentage of their children in poverty.

   Children In Poverty in District Count Children In Poverty / Children in District PCT
1                          Seattle  9766                                      Benge  60
2                           Tacoma  8425                                     Keller  49
3                          Spokane  7967                                    Tukwila  45
4                             Kent  6135                          Evergreen-Stevens  44
5                         Highline  5692                                  Northport  43
6                        Vancouver  5354                                  SouthBend  42
7                       FederalWay  5110                                    Wishram  40
8                           Yakima  4974                                     Morton  38
9                  Evergreen-Clark  4893                                     Orient  38
10                      CloverPark  4305                                   Oroville  38
11                           Pasco  4151                                  Skykomish  37
12                          Auburn  3715                                    Taholah  37
13                          Renton  3617                                     Wapato  37
14                       Kennewick  3447                                   Nespelem  36
15                         Edmonds  3277                                    Pateros  36
16                         Everett  2977                                  Palisades  35
17                          Bethel  2916                                       Star  35
18                        Mukilteo  2758                                   UnionGap  35
19                   NorthThurston  2541                               SummitValley  34
20                        Puyallup  2538                                  Toppenish  34
21                   CentralValley  2079                                 CloverPark  33
22                  FranklinPierce  1984                                    Granger  32
23                        Bellevue  1978                                 NorthRiver  32
24                       Sunnyside  1974                                 OnionCreek  32
25                      Bellingham  1908                                   Crescent  31

Below is a rather unwieldy (2013 SAIPE) chart of the collected 294 WA School Districts containing 196,162 school children attached to a household living in Poverty. Clicking to enlarge will not make the county names more visible.

Homelessness in Whatcom County School Districts

"Washington state school districts are identifying and serving increasing numbers of homeless students every year, and the numbers continue to rise. Between the 2008-09 school year and 2013- 14 school year, Washington state experienced a 56% increase in the number of enrolled homeless students reported by school districts. In many cases, school is the only stable or safe place for children and youth who are experiencing the instability of disrupted housing and high mobility. Knowing that homelessness impacts both the academic and the social-emotional well-being of students, it is critical for school districts to have the resources and supports necessary to ensure that all vulnerable children and youth, particularly those experiencing homelessness, are identified, served and supported." From Homeless Student Data 2013 - 2014
 Homelessness among students has been on the rise in Washington State. The count of homelessness among students is more encompassing than the one day "Point in Time" estimate of all sheltered and unsheltered homeless done once each year in January. The  OSPI legally mandated definition of homelessness is also broader [ See WCCEH, 2014] . For WA as a whole, homelessness is on the rise for K - 12 students in WA state.

   DistrictName TotPop DistrictEnrollment SAChild SAChildPovHH   CountHomeless
1     Bellingham 104767              11136   12340         1908                     471
2         Blaine  16388               2120    2380          420                      49
3       Concrete   4921                542     717          168                      26
4       Ferndale  31180               5174    5885          912                     126
5         Lynden  18863               2842    3612          397                      58
6       Meridian  10032               1790    1630          249                      41
7     MountBaker  14724               1880    2573          515                      52
8 NooksackValley  10317               1574    1996          304                      49
9  Sedro-Woolley  26646               4305    4491          745                     173

Here are the top 25 WA school districts in WA for children in homelessness (total) and as a district percentage. There is little intersection of members to these separate lists. Clearly, the larger urban school districts as a whole have more children in homelessness. Many if not most of the smaller, rural districts however have a much higher percentage of their children in poverty.

Children In Homelessness in District Count Children In Homelessness / District Enrollment PCT
Seattle Public Schools 2225 Orondo 47
Tacoma 1760 Keller 44
Spokane 1341 Dixie 40
Highline 1067 Lake Quinault 32
Everett 845 Lyle 20
Vancouver 754 Mount Adams 19
Evergreen (Clark) 692 North Beach 19
North Thurston 623 Ocosta 14
Yakima 610 Onalaska 14
Central Valley 511 Royal 14
Edmonds 474 Wellpinit 14
Bellingham 471 Lind 13
Kent 463 Taholah 13
Olympia 463 Soap Lake 12
Wenatchee 460 Aberdeen 11
Bethel 459 Tukwila 11
Renton 435 Pe Ell 10
Marysville 406 Selkirk 10
Puyallup 387 Warden 10
Pasco 380 Ocean Beach 9
Mead 376 Oroville 9
Aberdeen 365 Rainier 9
Longview 355 South Bend 9
Tukwila 338 Winlock 9
Shelton 336 Granite Falls 8

  "Most homeless students were part of homeless families; however, a substantial proportion of all homeless students in Whatcom County schools (21%) were unaccompanied, meaning they were no longer part of a family. They may have been “couch surfing”, finding shelter unstably at one or more friends’ or relatives’ housing, or they may have been unsheltered or in youth emergency shelter or transitional housing. Bellingham had the highest proportion of unaccompanied homeless students (28%), followed by Blaine (24%), Mount Baker (21%), Ferndale (15%), and Lynden (10%). Meridian and Nooksack Valley School Districts reported no unaccompanied homeless students. "  From Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness 2014 Report Annual Report
Source: Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness 2014 Report Annual Report

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