State and local school systems struggle to keep up with the demands on domestic violence programs

In Washington state, 40,000 children in Needy Families programs are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and 55 percent of the children living in the program have legal or pending cases of domestic violence, according to a new analysis by the ACLU of Washington and Just For Kids.

State law requires schools to report instances of domestic violence to the county prosecuting agency. These new research-based reports serve as a way to document the connection between domestic violence and unequal educational opportunities, noting that in Washington County, 90 percent of the domestic violence cases involve boys and almost all of the perpetrators are fathers who are not employed. Some of the localities have seen a reduction in domestic violence as a result of interventions from the state Department of Social and Health Services.

In Arkansas, 8,000 students are provided free lunches, but more than 50 percent have an incarcerated parent and at least two-thirds have legal or pending cases of domestic violence. Men disproportionately face these kinds of barriers, even in counties with low levels of poverty.

In New York City, more than 85 percent of public school students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and 95 percent have legal or pending cases of domestic violence. Schools in certain neighborhoods in the Bronx and Staten Island are working to teach about domestic violence, and so are schools in several New York City school districts.

In Connecticut, around 54 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch, and one in three have legal or pending cases of domestic violence. About half of those with a parent who’s incarcerated are boys, and boys are about twice as likely as girls to be incarcerated in this state.

In Georgia, around 52 percent of the school-age population is eligible for free and reduced lunch and a quarter of those have a parent in jail or prison, according to a new report by Georgia State University. In Louisiana, a new report conducted by a coalition of civil rights groups shows a similar pattern. One-third of the state’s public school population and 10 percent of parents have legal or pending cases of domestic violence. Between 2009 and 2015, 63 percent of girls who were homeless were in the protective custody of the state, the study found. The rate of violent crime committed by black men in that state is three times higher than the rate for whites.

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