A Washington state program — one of the first of its kind in the country — aims to help children who aren’t considered homeless under a strict federal definition. Public schools identified 1.1 million kids as homeless in 2020-21. But roughly 85 percent of these children didn’t qualify for public housing assistance. “We do nothing to prevent the ‘hidden homeless,’” said Darla Bardine, executive director of the National Network for Youth, a nonprofit that works to end youth homelessness. “You have to sleep on the street for 14 days — you have to put yourself in danger for two weeks — before you’re eligible” for federal aid, she added. “That’s actually mandating long-term suffering before you extend a helping hand.”

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