My Quest To Teach

November 20, 2012

Eyes of Homeless Children

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Jackson @ 11:46 am

Eyes of Homeless Children

Eyes of Homeless Children

Eyes of Homeless Children

The opportunity to become engaged in “Conversations”
about homeless children has become an opportunity to
be involved and make significant changes for improvement
in the lives of children that society seems to have forgotten
or unaware of the growing numbers of homeless children
in classrooms of Duval County Public Schools.
These silent and often times invisible children are
important residents of Jacksonville are caught as collateral
damage in the volatile economical situation we are
experiencing nationwide.

In Duval County Public Schools there is an estimated 1500
to 1700 homeless children. This may not seem to be a large
amount in relation to the 183 schools of Duval County Public
Schools that have an approximate enrollment of 125,387, any
child that is homeless is too many.

Taking a look at DCPS at a Glance
http://www.duvalschools.org/static/aboutdcps/just_the_facts.asp

DCPS is the 22nd largest school district in the nation and the
sixth largest school district in Florida. So this district
is a representation of other school district in Northeast
Florida and Southeast Georgia.

In Florida, 924,000 children lived in poverty from data Feb
2012 provided by Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
http://fcir.org/2012/02/12/poverty-homelessness-rising-sharply-among-florida-students/

If DCPS is experiencing homeless children other larger cities
educational systems are affected as well. “The number of students
slipping into poverty has affected all 67 school districts in the state,
with poverty growing hand-in-hand with unemployment”
Poverty, Homelessness Rising Sharply Among Florida Students 2012.
The eyes of homeless children are watching their teachers teach,
but their thoughts are many times focused on other things directly
related to their survival. The eyes of homeless children are watching
their breakfast, lunch and if involved in after school
programs the last meal they will get when they leave the safety and
security of the school.

A fact stated by the Emergency Services Homeless Coalition
is that, “there is at least 1 homeless student in EVERY Duval
County Public School http://www.eshcnefl.org/ This is a
challenge to teachers and administrator because they may not
know who their homeless students are. Knowledge of these
students does not mean treating them differently, giving them
special privileges or feeling sorry for them, but to be able to
provide services that help to lift them, their parents or any
additional siblings up. Giving a hand up not a hand out.

The purpose of “Conversations for Education” is to bring
together multiple stakeholders to discuss the barriers and challenges
to education that homeless students face and work to overcome.
The influx of technology, availability of after school tutoring,
extracurricular activities, sports and clubs are not available to
homeless students. Stakeholders, community service groups,
nonprofit organizations and even ministerial alliances must
collaborate to help these students and their families. Churches
cannot just resort to “praying for the homeless” but actually
becoming involved. City Council members cannot just drive by
and ignore the homeless, especially children, they need to be
involved in the homeless shelters. Talking to parents and even
children, not just to try to squeeze votes and popularity, but
to really care about the “people” they are supposed to help.

How can Jacksonville, Florida be a “Bold New City of the South”,
but cannot help support all its citizens and create dynamic
opportunities for education and employment? The eyes of homeless
children witness many things that affect their emotional,
psychological and even spiritual well being.

Multiple services are often times needed to bring about a sense
of safety, purpose and achievement in life. During the
“Conversations for Education” participants openly discuss
the topics and problems impacting the educational
experiences of homeless children in Jacksonville, and identify
solutions for student success and pulling families up from poverty
and homelessness. These conversations provide engagement
and awareness; citizens can work together and collaborate in
their respective networks sharing knowledge and resources
being advocates for homeless children and families.

One person or one organization cannot support the tremendous
needs of homeless families. It requires coordination of services,
collaboration of resources, political help from City Council Members,
School Board Members, Faith based entities and other that share
a passion for helping families and children.

The “Conversations for Education” are a six-part series of
community chats that will occur at various locations throughout the
city of Jacksonville from October through December.
To attend please visit http://www.eshcnefl.org learn more.

Conversations for Education
Contact Ms. Ywana Allen at: yallen@eshcnet.org
Mobile: (404) 429 – 1112
Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition of
Northeast Florida at: (904) 619 – 3720

Conversations for Education
Conversation #4: Wed. Nov. 28th
10 am/Community Connections, 327 E. Duval Street, 32203
Conversation #5: Wed. Dec. 5th
6 pm/Mandarin Library, 3330 Kori Road, 32257
Conversation #6: Wed. Dec. 12th
6 pm/Regency Library, 9900 Regency Square Boulevard, 32225

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