Something no child should have to worry about is where they'll be going home following a day at school. Unfortunately, alarming data from the Idaho Asset Building Network shows that is the exact uncertainty nearly 8,000 students across the state of Idaho face each night. A number that shows no sign of decline.
"We're right in this median where we make too much money to get help, and we don't make enough money to survive," says Crystal, a Nampa resident who currently lives in an RV with her husband and three children. Where they park the RV varies depending on the night.
"The constant uproar of moving from place to place, the cops checking in on us because we're suspicious, it causes a lot of stress," says Crystal
Causing the minds of her children to wander elsewhere when it comes to sitting in a classroom.
That is if they are able to make it to school at all.
"Sometimes I run out of gas because we have to have food in the house. Their welfare takes place first, then school," says Crystal.
And it isn't only Crystal’s family. Not having a "fixed" nighttime residence is a problem facing 7,820 students across Idaho.
"The number of homeless school children in Idaho has skyrocketed by about 64% over the last seven years,” says Alejandra Cerna Rios, Policy Director for the Idaho Asset Building Network.
The Idaho Asset Building Network says the steady increase in homeless schoolchildren is in part a result of the shrinking supply of affordable homes in the state.
"The increase in home prices is a national trend, and it’s one that's been taking place over many years. So as our wages have remained somewhat stagnant, prices for renting a home and buying a home have continued to rise," says Alejandra.
Crystal's family can attest to that, after living in multiple other states, "Idaho is the hardest. We’ve never not had a home until Idaho."
The Idaho Asset Building Network says while some larger districts have seen homeless populations more than double, the problem is not confined to the more urban areas. In six of the ten districts with the highest rates of students experiencing homelessness, total enrollment is less than 500 students.