Schools getting funding to help with student homelessness

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

More than a dozen school districts in Kentucky are getting funding to help combat what some officials said is a growing problem.

More than $800,000 a year in grants will be going to multiple schools over a three year period, including several right here in our backyard.

Four school districts in southeastern Kentucky will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money to do what they can to meet the needs of students who are deemed "homeless."

“We have students currently that don't know where they are going to sleep from night to night,” said Hazard city schools Superintendent Sandra Johnson.

Johnson said she wanted to do something after she saw the number of homeless students continue to grow.

“It affects them academically and emotionally, their ability to participate in extracurricular activities,” said Johnson.

Around 13 percent of students enrolled in Hazard Independent Schools are identified as “homeless.”

Johnson said it is primarily older students who receive the title.

“Most of them have just turned eighteen and for whatever reason their parents have put them out of the home,” said Johnson.

Johnson said she was shocked to find how many students had this happen and continued to excel.

“In spite of all these barriers, these students still continue to make every effort to come to school,” said Johnson.

Johnson said just because a student is identified as being homeless does not necessarily mean that they are out living on the street and the federal definition might be a little different from what others perceive the word to mean.

“Even if the student is with a parent and the parent and the parent and child are living with another family member due to a financial hardship, then they qualify as homeless,” said Johnson.

The district will receive a three year grant to hire three homeless liaisons to deal with the students and their families to help with whatever they need to enroll and stay in school.

“That's why we are in this profession, that's why we should be in this profession anyway,” said Johnosn.

“Everyone has worked together to ensure that this child made it across the stage at graduation.”

The grant was written for $65,000 a year for three years, but the superintendent Johnson said the amount has is not finalized yet.

Knott, Whitley and Pike county schools are also part of the thirteen districts across the commonwealth which will receive the grant money as well.

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