Topic: Homeless kids
A lady with 5 children came for clothes. They left a western state because of domestic violence. She was telling me she hadn't been able to register the older 3 in school because she didn't have a lease, utility receipts etc. to prove her residence. The schools know perfectly well the law says admit the child them help the family get paperwork. This has been the law for years and years...since 1996 anyway maybe longer. The local school system certainly knows that. I've personally given them what ought to have been a memorable bad time about it. yet we are still hearing this! They are punishing the child because daddy injured mama. Isn't it enough to leave your toys and friends and a lot of your clothes and come so far and be so scarred? Isn't it enough to have slept in a car fleeing for your life and for your mommie's life? Isn't it bad enough to be starting in a strange new school after all of this without being told they do not want you. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. I taught mom the words McKinney Vento (the name of the law that says her kids can come to school) and gave her a couple of names of ppl who are supposed to facilitate this and told her to call me if they do not immediately put the kids in school. I get so frustrated and tired of going this same round with this same school system. This is the system who told me in '96-97 that there were no homeless kids in their schools because you have to be a county resident to go to school here and a homeless kid isn't a resdent anywhere. David Davidsom who was Federal Programs Director for GA State BOE talked with them and they seemed to understand. Actually they understood that David was very prepared to make an issue out of it which could cost them state and federal$. Then 2 yrs ago we counted homeless kids from helping agency records and came up with just over 800. Even if there could be duplication one agency alone had helped 401. And I was still told there was no big problem.
Now to top off a long week I got a call this AM from a mom who has no place to live and is temporarily staying one county away. Great they have a school homeless program, one of the best in the state, the one I used to work for, one where I know everyone involved. So I call and what does she say? "Are the kids in school" No she needs help in getting them registered. "Oh we can't help they have to be in school"!!!!! And this is someone who used to work in a homeless shelter and is paid to be an advocate for getting kids in school. Screeech! Pound! Bang! I was really nice and explained again that it is one of the functions of the program to get kids into school. She finally said she'd call the mama while we still knew where she was. If I can find the mom tomorrow it will be interesting to see if she was called.
Meanwhile what makes this such a really big deal is that school is the one warm, safe,
consistant place with 2 free meals a day if someone does the paperwork. Besides which from plain economics a homeless kid excluded from school is 70% more likely to grow up to be a homeless unwed parent, more than twice as likely to join a gang or engage in other criminal activity and more than 70% more likely to be a school drop out than a housed kid or a homeless kid whose school is not disrupted. And where did I learn all that? working for the very proram where I was just told the kid needs to already be in school in order to get help enrolling into school. Something is very wrong with this picture.