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Drugs in schools

Most drug violations in CPS involve an ounce or less of marijuana. Schools are quick to call police, yet rarely have the resources to offer education, counseling or other non-punitive help to students.

Pilot program will help homeless students and their families

Tough economic times are apparently contributing to a steep increase in
homelessness among CPS students: As of June 2009, CPS identified 12,512
students as homeless, an increase of almost 2,000 students in just the
last year, according to data from the Chicago Coalition for the
Homeless.

In comparison, the homeless student population grew by only 126 students between 2006 and 2008.

Tough economic times are apparently contributing to a steep increase in homelessness among CPS students: As of June 2009, CPS identified 12,512 students as homeless, an increase of almost 2,000 students in just the last year, according to data from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

In comparison, the homeless student population grew by only 126 students between 2006 and 2008. 

Advocates are worried that the number will continue to rise because of job losses and foreclosures caused by the recession. Most of the new homeless students aren’t necessarily living in shelters. Instead, they’re students whose families have no permanent residence and instead must move from house to house, “doubling up” with friends or relatives.

Chapin Hall, an independent policy and research group, reported on the academic impact of homelessness in a 2008 report that found fewer homeless students passed state achievement tests, sometimes scoring almost 20 percentage points lower than the rest of their peers.

Other research has found that homeless students experience other difficulties, such as being retained more often.  Chapin Hall’s report found that nearly two-thirds of homeless students changed schools at least once during the year, and on average, students switched schools 3.2 times. Homeless students were also more likely to require special education services.

Rene Heybach, director of the law project at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, says that CPS is using AmeriCorps volunteers and summer tutors to help bridge the achievement gap between homeless students and their classmates. It’s not always, enough, though.  “We’re always underfunded, and there are always too many kids,” says Heybach. “More kids stretch it even thinner.”

Last month, the city announced the Homeless Student Support Initiative, a new strategy to provide housing, employment assistance, health care and after-school services to homeless students and their families in the coming school year.

The city plans to use $3 million in federal stimulus funds to assist homeless students attending school in Englewood.  The pilot will include 500 CPS students, primarily those whose families are living doubled up with relatives or friends. Still, the program will only be a pilot, and there are currently no plans for expansion.

Heybach stresses the importance of housing to help students. “When you have stable housing in the community, you have stable families.”

3 comments

gimme gimme wrote 5 years 15 weeks ago

Pilot program will help homeless students and their families

I wish there were better ways to monitor those truly in need. I have seen many, many families claim homeless when they are really not. They know how to get free uniforms "brand new", free school supplies, free breakfast and lunch, free after school snacks, free Leap pad Touch gaming systems, free back packs, free bus passes, free field trips, free graduation cap and gown, no activity fees for school, etc. There is actually a choice between handing out gently used and brand new uniforms to homeless students. I can understand assistance for 6 months, but not year after year after year. We are contributing to a society of expecting handouts. How about using the stimulus money to provide incentives to families to work for the items that are currently given out? 5 service hours could get you 1 school uniform. 10 service hours covers your school fees. Establishing an incentive system is a win-win situation.

To gimme gimme wrote 5 years 15 weeks ago

Pilot program will help homeless students and their families

I hear you. I buy my children scholl supplies to last throughout the WHOLE year. Then, the teacher asks for donations of pencils and paper. I always give. My son told me the whole pack of pencils I sent to the school were given to other students and he didn"t understand. I send him with mechnical pencils but he asked for one of the pencils that I sent. His teacher never gave him one. The scholl supply thing always makes me wonder! Do the other parents give or do they just want hand outs!

slippery slope wrote 5 years 14 weeks ago

Pilot program will help homeless students and their families

I see everyone's point. I too have witnessed the abuses of some families in the homeless programs. One example I could give would be a student who was "homeless", but would come in every week with probably 150 dollars or more of new clothes and then flaunt her ipod and cell phone. It is unfortunate that the system does not have more safegaurds in place to gaurantee that those who truly need services will receive them and that those who are using the system are turned away. This is the problem with every government program unfortunately. Unfortunately, I cannot offer a solution to this problem either.

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