Thousands of students in Missouri’s public schools are homeless. The education department counted 14,350 students living in shelters, doubling up with people in other homes, living in hotels or motels, or having to forage for a place to spend the night in the last school year. It’s the highest number in at least six years.
Some school districts get grants to provide services to homeless students. The department’s federal discretionary grants director, Craig Rector, says the most critical thing schools provide homeless students is some continuity in their unsettled lives.
Rector says students, once identified as homeless, are automatically eligible for the free and reduced school lunch program which provides them with breakfast lunches.
He says it’s a matter of breaking down barriers to getting that student to attend school. He says schools work to keep their homeless status from being known to other students…and to deal with any health problems they have, although many homeless children are among the best-innoculated students in schools because they get shots whenever they change schools.
He says teachers face some special challenges because the students might have started and stopped their education several times a year because they move around, leaving teachers to try to determine where the student is in their education and then to get them up to the level of their peers.
The department says 200 of Missouri’s 523 districts have homeless students.
Bob Priddy’s story :62 mp3 rectva
Entire interview with Craig Rector 18:02 mp3 rect16