HomeFest Raises Awareness of Student Homelessness
By Bonnie Mentel
The Center School District is working to raise awareness about student homelessness with HomeFest, a free block-party at Colonial Presbyterian Church, 9500 Wornall, on Sunday, September 30th from 12:30-2:30. Special guest KC Wolf will be there, along with family-friendly activities such as bounce houses, Team Xtreme, and Sheridan’s frozen custard.The goal is to help launch a Resource Center and end student homelessness in the community.
“On average four to five percent of Center School District total enrollment is comprised of students pre-k to 12 that qualify under McKinney Vento legislation,” said Stacy King, Director of Family and Students for the Center School District.
The McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act mandates that homeless students have the right to an education.
“When determining if a student (family) qualifies under McKinney Vento, we look at three areas: Does the student (family) lack fixed (permanent such as a house or apartment, different from a car), regular (consistently going to the same place), and adequate (sufficient) housing,” said Smith.
According to the McKinney-Vento Act and the Kansas City School District, these students have the right to: go to school, no matter where they live or how long they have lived there, attend either their school of origin or their local school, receive associated transportation services, enroll in school immediately, even if missing documents normally required for enrollment, have immediate access to free lunch (without filling out forms), and engage in all the same programs and services that are available to all other students.
The type of students who qualify for services are those who temporarily live with relatives or friends due to some type of hardship, as well as those who live in motels, hotels, campgrounds, or shelters, or who find themselves living in unsafe housing.
Christina Medina, PR Director for the Center School District, stated, “Representatives from our community are working closely with a select group of Center administrators to understand and address student homelessness in our community. We are receiving training from leaders at Avenue of Life, the backbone organization for the award-winning Impact KCK “1,400 Diplomas” initiative. This KCK initiative has led to a 50 percent reduction in student homelessness over the past three years.”
In Kansas City, homeless students may receive the following services and support: school transportation, school supplies, backpacks, school uniforms, case management, and more.
“We currently offer support in helping students overcome any barriers that get in the way of the students having full access to the educational and extra-curricular experience including: transportation support, clothing, basic toiletry/hygiene items, and extra-curricular needs (such as special shoes to play a particular sport, clothing for graduation),” said King.
If families are in need of assistance or information, King can be reached at 816-349-3311 or firstname.lastname@example.org.