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Schools strapped for money to educate homeless students


VIP Member
Jan 17, 2010
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New Jersey
School districts are serving more homeless children for longer periods even as federal funding aimed to help them remains flat.

"Six weeks might now be six months," said Nicole Anderson, coordinator of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Homeless Children's Initiative, of the growing need.

The number of homeless children in the state jumped 55 percent from 2007-08 to 2009-10, according to the National Center for Homeless Education. In the nine Western Pennsylvania counties the Allegheny Intermediate Unit serves, the number increased by 23 percent, from about 1,800 children to 2,200, during that time.

"The economy is causing people you would never suspect to come to be in those circumstances," said Mary Clark, site manager of the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit's Homeless Children's Initiative. "People were middle class, secure in their houses and lives, and now Dad or Mom loses a job or is working a minimum-wage job, and all it takes is one thing and it starts to spiral downward."

Pennsylvania's share of federal Title I funds, which benefit low-income students and can be used to help homeless students, dipped from $13.7 million in 2009 to an estimated $11 million for 2012.

Pennsylvania has received about $2.5 million in federal funding annually specifically for homeless students since 2007. The state's intermediate units, which oversee initiatives for homeless children in eight multicounty regions, work with districts to distribute that money to fund part of the cost of things such as transportation, counseling and tutoring.

The AIU received $300,000 in federal money for its nine-county region this school year. That's nearly $200,000 less than 2009-10, when federal stimulus money boosted funding; and about $50,000 less than 2008-09, according to the state Department of Education.

"It's not adequate funding," Anderson said. As a result, the agency eliminated the emergency grants it provided shelters.

"They would apply for them to get school uniforms, yearbooks or things like assisting a child with a field trip," Anderson said. "We still try to fulfill the request, but we had to cut that line item in our budget."

To raise awareness about the plight of homeless children, the Homeless Children's Education Fund is hosting Pittsburgh's first Homeless Children's Awareness Week through Saturday.

The nonprofit provides money to 17 homeless agencies in Allegheny County to set up libraries in shelters, and for things such as trips to the zoo and animal shelters, therapeutic materials, and etiquette and cooking classes.

Bill Wolfe, executive director of the fund, said it's important that homeless children have stability and support at school even if they don't have it anywhere else.

"Children who experience a homeless event fall four to six months behind in their educational process, and if there's not support out there to get back current, then they get frustrated in school and drop out," he said.

Homeless children are twice as likely as other children to repeat a grade in school, be expelled or suspended, or drop out of high school; and less than 25 percent graduate high school, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness, a research and advocacy group for homeless families

Read more: Schools strapped for money to educate homeless students - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Mr. Forgot-it-All
Jun 5, 2008
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In America?

Good work, Masters.

Truly you have a lot to be proud of.

In less than two generations your anti-American policies have taken this nation from the wealthest creditor nation in the world to the world's biggest debtor nation.

The quality of life for the average American is going down for the first time in 200 years thanks to your FREE TRADE/Anti-worker policies.

The nation is broke thanks to your genius.

If you guys were honorable like the Japanese leaders of WWII, you'd fall on your swords.

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