February 28, 2023
Caring for ALL students: Homeless youth receive City Schools support
Unhoused learners appreciate the comfort and resources to reach their goals
Imagine sitting in class, trying to focus on a teacher's lesson while worrying about where you might sleep later that night. Imagine rushing to school late after being evicted from your family's home, unsure of what comes next. Imagine experiencing a tragic death of a close family member, leaving your housing and family life insecure and uncertain - all while sitting in class taking a test.
This year, more than 4,300 City Schools students are facing homelessness. That’s a 33% increase over last year. These students deserve our support, and City Schools’ Office of Homeless Services (OHS) is stepping up to make sure they receive it, working with them to overcome incredible challenges to attend school, complete assignments, stay healthy, and continue to pursue their goals.
Their situations may vary, but OHS’ dedication remains steadfast. Said Dr. Courtney Pate, City Schools Director of Home and Hospital, “Homelessness means many things - from on the street to couch surfing to uncertainty stemming from unexpected changes such as fires, deaths, or financial hardship. Our goal is to identify students in these situations in order to provide them with the support necessary to set goals, reach them, and feel the same as their peers in class.”
Like homelessness itself, the work OHS does takes on many forms, and always includes on-going collaboration with educators, school-based staff, and district partners. “We’re focused on removing barriers between these students and their goals,” explained Adrienne Gordon, Coordinator of Specialized Health & Student Services, City Schools. “If you can’t make it to school, you can’t learn. If you’re hungry in school, you can’t concentrate. If you’re sick and in need of medication, you can’t be at your best. We’re helping students to sustain their education by giving them the tools and resources necessary to address these problems and succeed.”
Here are a few examples of how City Schools does this important work:
Training: Throughout the year, OHS trains staff, community organizations, family agencies, and partners on homeless students' rights and connecting students with available services.
Clothes Closets: In the last school year, City Schools worked with more than 100 schools to create Clothing Closets, where students could get free clothes and school uniforms. In addition, OHS provides schools with grants to purchase uniforms for students.
In-School and At-Shelter Tutoring: Over the last year, more than 120 homeless students accessed individualized, intensive after school tutoring at 10 shelters across the city. For two-and-a-half hours every Monday through Thursday, students worked with City Schools-trained tutors to review STEM, Math and English coursework, complete homework, and connect with additional academic resources. This year, City Schools is providing additional in-school tutorial services - providing priority to students experiencing homelessness.
Summer Support: Last summer, hundreds of homeless students received tutoring and job readiness training while earning an income at a summer camp in partnership with The Y of Central Maryland and Youthworks. Another partner, St. Vincent De Paul, welcomed 120 homeless students to its summer camp, featuring reading and math enrichment, physical activity and mentorship from peers, staff, and youth workers. OHS also connected families of homeless students with school-and-community-based resources so they were prepared for the first day of school.
To learn more about City Schools’ Office of Homeless Services, visit https://www.baltimorecityschools.org/homeless-services