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Nearly 1.2 million California public K-12 students are English learners who bring an invaluable asset with them to school: speaking a language other than English. Ensuring these students can leverage their linguistic assets requires them to attend and succeed at school.

Having a safe, stable place to live is crucial for student development and educational success. But, more than 245,000 of California’s public K-12 students experienced homelessness in 2022-23. This includes children temporarily staying with other families due to economic hardship, and children living in motels, shelters, vehicles, public spaces, or substandard housing.

Students who are English learners disproportionately experience homelessness. English learners comprise 1 in 5 California K-12 public school students, but English learners were more than 1 in 3 of the state’s students who experienced homelessness in 2022-23. Housing instability is one reason English learners experience high rates of chronic absenteeism, which causes them to lose critical access to curriculum, opportunities to leverage their linguistic assets, and social structures that schools, educators, and peers offer.

Policymakers should boost investments in safe, affordable housing and target additional funding and resources for students who are more likely to experience homelessness, including California’s English learners. Policy solutions should also be rooted in equitable interventions that build community trust and integrate culturally and linguistically competent practices to ensure every California K-12 student can thrive in school and life.

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