In a March 12 article, Time magazine reported that nearly 1 in 10 children attending public school in Minneapolis is homeless. According to preliminary figures, districts are reporting nearly 16% more homeless students in the 2007-08 academic year than in the previous year. Read the full article.
Every school district in the United States has a liaison for homeless and highly mobile students, Elizabeth Hinz is the Minneapolis Public Schools liaison. The Minneapolis school district provides each child a new backpack full of grade appropriate school supplies (paid for by private donations and federal funding). An effort is made to make sure the backpacks aren’t the throw-away kind. “We don’t want backpacks that look like they came from a shelter,” says Hinz, as quoted in the article.
Last year, Simpson family housing programs served 622 children throughout the Twin Cities Metro area. Every school-aged child is assigned an Education Support Advocate (ESA) to help them succeed in school. On an lighter note, advocates report that they do not see a lot of the children in the program bearing the stigma of being homeless or highly mobile.
“I see parents protecting their children from knowing that they are homeless,” says Jean Lloyd, ESA. “Sometimes a child won’t want me to see them at school, but that is usually not the case. I remember one little girl proudly saying out loud ‘This is my advocate!’” Rachel Kuehl, ESA says. Read about a day in the life of a Simpson Education Support Advocate.