Summit focuses on ending childhood homelessness

Do your child’s friends seem tired, hungry, or have problems telling you where they live?  It may be because they are homeless.

“In Jackson and Perry County, which is what I deal with, there were 347 identified,” said Jackson-Perry ROE Homeless Liaison Christy Emery.  “In all of Region 6, which is the southern 24 counties, over 3000 kids identified as homeless.”

Many homeless in the area end up in the  care of Mike Heath at Good Samaritan Ministries, but that’s not an option for minors.

“Our rule is you have to be 18, or an adult to come to the emergency shelter without your parents.” said Mike Heath.  “If your parents are there it’s a completely different story.”

That’s where school districts are attempting to step in, but Regional Office of Education Homeless Liaison Christy Emery says their hands are often tied.

“We can supply clothing, and school supplies, and personal hygiene items,” said Emery.  “We can buy food with our money, but we can’t give money for homes.”

“They need help, that’s the bottom line,” said Heath.

If a student is defined as homeless by the school district, they are eligible for some services such as free breakfast and lunch, as well as fee waivers where applicable.

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