According to district leaders, more than 400 students are considered homeless in the Duluth School District. And that may not be all of them.
“We do have quite a few students that are homeless in our schools. So we average between 400-450 per year, and those are just the students we know about. Those are students that are referred to us, students that approach us. But there can be certainly more we just don’t know about,” said Katie Danielson, a coordinator at Families in Transition.
And what classifies a student as homeless varies.
“We follow McKinney-Vento [Homeless Assistance Act of 1987]. It’s a federal law, and so if students and family are living in a hotel/motel, doubled up, in shelter transitioning housing–anything that falls under those categories,” added Danielson.
But the District’s Familes in Transition program is looking to change that. With the help of local businesses and neighbors, the program has started an online fundraising campaign in hopes of raising $1,000 by the end of this year.
“So that we could have some funds to buy things for youth, such as bus passes, Super One [cards], Cub Foods cards, other money that we could [use to] purchase things for youth that we don’t normally have funds for–such as IDs, birth certificates, laundry detergent, and so we’re trying to raise as much money as we can,” said Danielson.
The Families in Transition program isn’t the only effort to help youth in need.
“Once a child has been referred for “Help me Grow” services, the referral gets put out to the local school district. Then the early child special-ed team will reach out to the families. They can provide those services in the home,” said Amy Richter, a member of the “Help Me Grow” program.
Amy Richter is with the “Help Me Grow” program, which works in the community to intervene early, and put children on the right path.
“Those screenings are free. They also work to connect parents with other community organizations, and opportunities for families to get assistance,” added Richter.
All in an effort to help those in need live life with less uncertainty.
“I have just a passion for helping to meet their needs, [and] working with their families. We’re going to do what we can to help get them what they need, if were able to,” said Danielson.
For more information on the Families in Transition program, visit www.fitduluth.org.