According to the Michigan Department of Education’s most recent statistics, more than 31,000 students were homeless in 2010-11. Those are not just young people living in places like shelters and cars, they also include children in families that have moved in with relatives, friends or other families, and foster children recently placed in new homes. There were 4,981 students in Chippewa County Schools. Of those students, there was 1 homeless student located in Brimley, 5 at JKL Lumsden Bahweting, 1 at Pickford, 1 in Rudyard and 37 in Sault Ste. Marie.
Join us for the Chippewa Co. Project Backpack Event. There will be free backpacks for PreK-5th grade. The event is Friday, August 24th at Van Citters Field, Seymour St., Sault Ste. Marie, from 11am-1pm.
Please BRING YOUR CHILDREN for this carnival type atmosphere and FREE Lunch! Flyers can be found on the United Way website-www.UnitedWayEUP.org.
Partners in Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness are working with school officials to identify homeless children and provide the support that they need. The Campaign is a public-private consortium working to end homelessness one person and one family at a time through prevention, rapid rehousing, and addressing the underlying issues that lead to homelessness.
“These children deserve a chance to succeed, and we want to make sure they have what they need to participate and thrive,” said Dr. Tim Hall, Superintendent Sault Area Public Schools.
The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires every public school district to have a homeless educational liaison, a staff member responsible for identifying students in precarious living situations and helping them to get the services that they need. The contact for Sault Schools is Carol McKay, Homeless Liaison. The schools, through their educational liaison, work with Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness’ partners to make sure students and families have access to services, including help in finding stable housing.
“We, as a community, have a responsibility to help these children in any way we can,” said Hall. “They deserve a chance to succeed in school and in life.”
-Tony Hall, Superindendent of Sault Area School
The McKinney-Vento Act also allows homeless students to stay in their district of origin, and the local liaisons help set up the transportation and address other issues to make it a reality. This key priority is ensuring that students do not have to switch schools or school districts even when they have temporarily moved outside of their school district’s boundaries.
“Every time they change their school district during the year, they lose about four to six months of their academic progress,” said Pamela Kies-Lowe, homeless education consultant/state coordinator for the Michigan Department of Education.
The U.S. Department of Education has a broader definition of homelessness than the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development because of the critical importance of helping vulnerable children living in fragile housing situations, often the result of poverty. In many cases, families are forced to move in with relatives, double up with other families, or “couch surf,” moving from place to place to stay off the streets.
Also throughout Michigan, different communities develop programs and services to best meet the needs of children and families in their area. For instance, several northern counties have created a Host Homes program in which high school students are placed with a family—often someone they already have a relationship with—to live for the school year. The program was set up with support from Catholic Social Services. This program has had great success, with nearly all of the students graduating from high school.
People who are aware of children living in precarious housing situations should contact the McKinney-Vento homelessness grant coordinator in their area. Area coordinators can be found by visiting http://www.michigan.gov/homeless and clicking on the 2011-2012 Regional McKinney-Vento Consortium Map.