Abilene ISD asking for donations for homeless students
ABILENE, Texas - The semester just started for students in Abilene ISD, and the district identified about 400 students that are considered homeless, but it's not your typical homeless definition.
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 provides federal money for homeless shelter programs. Each state educational agency must give each child of a homeless person and each homeless youth equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as provided to other children and youths.
AISD homeless liaison Darrin Cox said they work to get the immediate needs of the students. "It can be any kid, any student that's living somewhere where they're displaced from their parents or with their parents living with others," Cox said.
At the time of enrollment, students under this program are not required to provide proof of residency, immunization records, birth certificate, school records, or legal guardianship papers. At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, AISD had 100 fewer McKinney-Vento homeless students compared to this year.
Out of those 400 students, 344 are living accompanied or unaccompanied at a family member or a friend's home, 32 are living in shelters, 18 are in motels or hotels, and three students are unsheltered. Cox said they are trying to find them homes. Six of those students are evacuees from Southeast Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
"Its eye opening I will tell you that," Cox said. "There's folks out there from kindergarten to seniors that aren't living with their parents and you know it's just a lot of sad situations that are all over town. So we're trying to help."
Cox said they are gathering clothes and supplies for these students so they can get their education without having to worry about necessities. The district is also asking for donations to help their homeless students. They are accepting money, school supplies, clothes, shoes, and toiletries.
"We are collecting some clothes and we've been doing some drives for underwear and socks and school supplies, so we're really trying to get it out that we're kind of the one stop shop," Cox said. These students are also given free meals and transportation. Cox said they work to keep the students in the same school for stability.
Cox said the numbers change all the time throughout the school year. He mentioned that at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, the district's homeless student total grew to a total of 1,215.
To donate, contact Cox at Darrin.email@example.com or call him at 325-677-1444 ext. 8641, or 5906.