Funding might aid homeless students

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Richmond County school officials will apply this week for a state grant that would help them further address the needs of homeless students -- a growing category that could total as many as 1,000 in three area counties.

The application will be submitted Wednesday and, if approved, could provide up to $70,000 for next school year, helping provide homeless students in Richmond County with assistance ranging from tutors at some shelters to money for school supplies, said Carol Rountree, the director of student services for the Richmond County School System.

School officials will know by the summer whether they are getting the grant, which Dr. Rountree said could also be used to fund training for school personnel, mainly new teachers, on how to address homeless students.

School officials and some community agencies say the issue is one they see all too often.

"A lot of them are living in motels," said Pat Bourke, who runs Julie's House, a transitional housing facility in Martinez for homeless women with children.

The problem worsened when gas and food prices went up and "they would get just so far behind they couldn't catch up," she said.

Homeless students often find themselves having to face such problems as transportation to classes and how to afford school supplies.

"Things that you normally don't worry about, all of a sudden it could be a major issue now," Dr. Rountree said.

Officials say the problem seems to be on the rise.

"We see an increased number because of (home) foreclosures," said Sherida Stroman, Aiken County's lead student services worker.

Richmond County social worker Linda Heggs said she's noticing the same trend.

BY THE NUMBERS

County school officials estimated the number of homeless students for each school year:

County - 2007-08 - 2008-09

Richmond - 173 - 104

Columbia - 193 - 250

Aiken - 475 - 480

Sources: Richmond, Columbia and Aiken county school officials

"A lot of those people are actually moving in with relatives," she said.

Richmond County officials said they tally their homeless-student count at the end of the school year with the help of area homeless shelters.

But the ability to get accurate information was diminished when state funding cuts forced the closure of a homeless shelter for youth, Child Enrichment, in 2007, Ms. Heggs said.

The school system registered 444 homeless students in the 2006-07 school year. Last year, it was able to document 173 homeless students.

This school year, from August to January, Ms. Heggs said, she knew of at least 104 homeless students, but she said that figure will grow, adding, "I can say there's been an increase (this school year). We've had a lot of calls for services."

In Columbia County, the count on Thursday was approximately 250 homeless students, and "we know there are more out there," said Jan Scarbary, the school system's homeless liaison.

At the end of last school year, she said there were 193 such students.

In Aiken County, the figures have been increasing in the past three school years -- from 319 in the 2005-06 school year to 325 in 2006-07 and 475 in 2007-08.

Sherida Stroman, the lead student services worker for Aiken County, said that by the end of this school year she expects to have as many as 480 homeless students.

Area schools have social workers who deal directly with homeless students.

And if a student becomes displaced and wants to continue attending the same school, the request is granted.

"You try to work with the parent to make it as less traumatic as you can," Dr. Rountree said, adding, "There is a resource, and we're anxious to be able to help these kids continue to learn."

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 823-3338 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

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pantherluvcik
628
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pantherluvcik 03/02/09 - 06:13 am
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How sad that these children

How sad that these children have nowhere to go, probably because their parents lost their jobs. And these habitual welfare and housing recipients are living the high life off our taxes and wouldn't know a job if it slapped them in the face. Why can't the city do anything about this with all the housing vouchers they give out.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/02/09 - 06:51 am
0
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"...how to address the

"...how to address the homeless..." Okay, I'd say this was a poor choice of words. It still seems the boe is addressing the symptom at the point the problem encounters them. Yes, the "homeless student" needs to be identified and, yes, things like school supplies and appropriate dress and general preparedness need to be addressed, but the root cause is much deeper than these things. Why is a person that is unable to feed, clothe and house a child making babies? Why, after realizing they're going to have a baby, hasn't this person taken steps to train herself to care for the new baby? Why, after the baby arrived, didn't the person feel she needed to start taking care of herself and the baby? Why is it always the taxpayer that needs to fill this need? There needs to be some serious intervention with the irresponsible baby-maker who is training her baby (by example) to continue this lifestyle... When will this cycle stop? Saying there are only 1,000 students in a 3 county area that fall into this group is pure denial. Yes the students need help, but the root cause is years late on being addressed.

TrukinRanger
1748
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TrukinRanger 03/02/09 - 08:42 am
0
0
give 'em a mattress and a
Unpublished

give 'em a mattress and a blanket and put them in Regency Mall

sgtdette41
0
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sgtdette41 03/02/09 - 08:50 am
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I would say the answer to

I would say the answer to PT's questions are one in the same. Many of the youth/teens/women having these children are dually diagnosed with mental, drug and/or alcohol problems. Bottom line, they don't reason as does others wanting children. Our main local treatment center, Serenity, does a POOR job of helping and we have no local detox program. Persons having more than 4, 5, 6 children are lost in our system with no possible way of ever having that intensive case management that would be required to move them into self sufficiency. It just simply is not available, so we have to look at the children and try to help them as much as possible. Mom has to fend for herself, because the help she needs for her mental growth is not available in our area.

intheknow
16
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intheknow 03/02/09 - 09:21 am
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It's a little TOO LATE to ask

It's a little TOO LATE to ask why. They are here now and the problem need to be addressed. These children were not asked to be born, nor do they need the condescending attitudes of some of the people in this area. The circumstances that got them into this situation needs to be looked into but that is not going to help them once they are here. To the cleaver poster. What if someone suggest giving you a shovel, so that you can dig a hole and bury your behind in it?

karmakills123
8
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karmakills123 03/02/09 - 09:30 am
0
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"School officials will know

"School officials will know by the summer whether they are getting the grant, which Dr. Rountree said could also be used to fund training for school personnel, mainly new teachers, on how to address homeless students."..........lol "homeless" kids will never see a dime, this money will go to some "personnel" in an office somewhere.............................

workingmom
0
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workingmom 03/02/09 - 10:17 am
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Some of these children are in

Some of these children are in this situation because of unexpected situations. Things such as divorce and the loss of a job can snowball into not being able to make payments, etc. Many of these kids and their parents are living with relatives because the parent(s) cannot find a job or have lost a job. I do agree with the statement that some are a product of the welfare generation, but not all. The children need our compassion and help.

InChristLove
22481
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InChristLove 03/02/09 - 10:26 am
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PT, I do believe that the

PT, I do believe that the article mentioned a rise in the number of homeless students due to foreclosures and such. I'm sure a number of these parents were living the American dream, had children, and were productive until one or both parents lost their jobs, economy took a downward spiral and many found themselves homeless. If we all waited until we could afford kids, none of us would have had any. Some of your comments make sense but your delivery usually comes across as uncaring. I will agree, single mothers who continuously have children are an issue but the rise in homeless students is not totally from single unwed mothers.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/02/09 - 11:43 am
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InChristLove, naivety is

InChristLove, naivety is never the answer, no matter how "kind" you appear. At your level, it's called enabling. Please analyze your position and see if it needs reconsidering.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/02/09 - 11:45 am
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intheknow, ignoring the

intheknow, ignoring the problem to address the symptom is why we're here now. No improvement. "Too late to change" is a great excuse for Dems, but it's not a solution.

dadgethiskids
0
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dadgethiskids 03/02/09 - 01:35 pm
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Entiltlements are break this

Entiltlements are break this country! Enough is enough!

anotherday
46
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anotherday 03/02/09 - 02:00 pm
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I would venture a guess that

I would venture a guess that many of these children are not the "normal" welfare" kids. Many of those families know have to work the system and that is different subject.
However the children did not ask to be in these positions of having no homes and deserve to be educated. My mother took us to a shelter for homeless families when I was 13 for a month to get back on her feet after a divorce and we were provided help with school and the transition. That was 25 years ago, why is Augusta so far behind the times? We had never been on welfare before or after.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/02/09 - 08:48 pm
0
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bellm, that's what the system

bellm, that's what the system is for. Some of the people in the shelter when you were there are still there and so are their children, grand children and great grandchildren.

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
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BakersfieldCityLimits 03/02/09 - 09:07 pm
0
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I defy the RCBOE to identify

I defy the RCBOE to identify 1 student that is homeless. This is one of those things that sound good, but is not a reality. Do you have thousands of students that live in abject poverty? Aboslutly! Any that are " homeless ", not a chance. Suck up all the money you can from the federal gubmint while you can RCBOE, becuase it surely can not last. Who is John Gault?

KSL
139775
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KSL 03/02/09 - 11:13 pm
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And you need a tutor because

And you need a tutor because you are homeless?? Looks like to me that there would be some people staying for free in the homeless shelters who are capable of tutoring. After all, they are just down on their luck. Many are educated people who have lost their jobs or are in a divorce situation. Right??? Tutoring for to say thanks for the shelter would be a good thing. Oh no, let the taxpayers do it.

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