Homeless Children in Wisconsin As a result of the affordable housing shortage in Wisconsin, there are a significant number of homeless families with children. Again, many of these families suffer from mental health issues and the lack of housing compounds their stress. There were at least 8,957 homeless students in Wisconsin at some point during the last school year, up 67 percent from 5,358 in 2003-04. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) reports a high volume of calls from school districts for information and advice regarding this issue during the current school year. DPI reports that the Milwaukee Public School District counted 870 homeless students after reporting a total of 2,400 at the end of 2007. The poor economy and a large number of foreclosures, including foreclosed apartment buildings, could be driving the increase. Another factor could be the number of families displaced by flooding in June. A report by First Focus, a children's advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., states that two million children nationally will be directly affected by the mortgage crisis as their families lose their homes due to foreclosures. That figure did not include evictions from rental units that were foreclosed. A state-by-state estimate by First Focus projects 26,334 foreclosures in Wisconsin, with 44 percent affecting a total of 22,600 children. Each public school district in Wisconsin is required to designate a homeless liaison to identify, immediately enroll, and help homeless children and unaccompanied youth stay in school. Wisconsin homeless liaisons follow legislative requirements to help children and youth in homeless situations continue their education. In August 2009, Governor Jim Doyle and State Superintendent Tony Evers announced $1.6 million in competitive grants to Wisconsin schools to support families and students who are homeless. Over half of this funding comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). “Over the last five years, the number of homeless students in Wisconsin has increased 74 percent,” Evers noted. Wisconsin school districts are receiving $904,290 in homeless funding through ARRA and $688,200 through the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program. Historically, Wisconsin has been able to fund a maximum of 12 districts with EHCY funds. With the addition of ARRA funding, this year a total of 30 Wisconsin districts will receive EHCY grant funds to support homeless students and families. They will use the funds for a variety of purposes, from accurately identifying students who are homeless and ensuring immediate enrollment, to providing free school meals, school supplies, and course fee waivers. Mental Health Block Grant and County Reporting The Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is committed to the inclusion of homeless individuals in the system of services and supports Wisconsin offers to residents with mental health and substance abuse issues.