Eyes of Homeless Children | Community Spirit

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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. 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.
In Florida, 924,000 children lived in poverty from data Feb
2012 provided by Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
DCPS is the 22nd largest school district in the nation and the
sixth largest school district in Florida. Taking a look at DCPS
at a Glance
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
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.

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. How can
Jacksonville, Florida be the 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 wellbeing.
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  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

Online Resources:
University of North Florida Study

State Impact from NPR

Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

Homeless Services for DCPS

New Homeless Shelter for Women and Children Open

Arlington Businesses