- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Jackson Public Schools is seeking renewal of a federal grant that will allow the district to continue services to children identified as homeless.

School officials told The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/1G5zZAu ) the program helps not only children living on the streets or in shelters but also those who live in shared housing that is not adequate or fixed, according to federal law.

“Because ‘homelessness’ is such a stigma and a lot of people don’t want to do the grant and paperwork and all the documentation, a lot of our (school) districts don’t apply for the grant,” Abby Webley, the district’s executive director of federal programs.

“However, we don’t mind going that extra mile because we want to serve our community . They will tell you they have no homeless children, but that’s not accurate.”

There were 3,086 students classified as homeless last year, Webley said.

Webley will apply for a McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Grant again for the upcoming school year. The district received about $151,000 last school year.

The Jackson schools partners with homeless shelters in the city, including the Stewpot shelters and Lizzie’s House, a transitional shelter for women and children, to identify the students who can be helped.

School officials determine who is considered “homeless” when students submit enrollment information at the beginning of each school year. At that time last year, 128 children in JPS were living in shelters; 42 in motels or hotels; 24 moving from place to place; none living in a car and one student was living in an inadequate dwelling.

Webley said the money is put toward school uniforms, books, personal hygiene items, laptops and other technology for shelters where students are staying, and tutoring, among other resources.

Fourteen other school districts in Mississippi received grant money from McKinney-Vento in 2013-2014, according to the Mississippi Department of Education.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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