Child in Transition Program


by Jessica Gruenling

ANCHORAGE, Ak-  It might surprise you to know that over 2,000 students in the anchorage school district are with out a place to call home.

 "About 4.8 percent of the student population. and one of the things about that kind of percentage if you were to look at a classroom of about 20 students across the district that would mean that one of those students was homeless at one point in time," Dave Mayo-Kiely, Child in Transition Program Coordinator 
Being homeless for kids means one thing,  a lack of stability. Not only are they jumping from home to home, but it also means they are jumping from school to school. 
"We're about 42, 45 percent transiency rate, which means that 1 in every 2 children is at some point is  going to be in and out of school," Marcus Wilson, North Star Elementary Principal 
In an effort to keep students in at least one familiar setting the anchorage school district has the child in transition program.
"If we identify a child as being homeless, meeting our definition of homelessness we can provide transportation support to keep them in the same school for the duration of the school year," Mayo-Kiely. 
To meet the programs definition of homeless you must have lost your house, been evicted, couldn't pay your rent, or have been foreclosed on. These issues seem to happen with a lack of affordable housing available. Referrals are usually made from a school or another agency in town.
"We have that are doubled up living with relatives living with friends and that could be students that are quite honestly living out in tents or living in their cars," Wilson.  
If a child qualifies for the Child in Transition program their identity is protected and are given supplies to help them get through the school year.
"You could see after school we have a lot of taxi cabs that up that take kids outside of our school zone to where ever their living because it doesn't matter if they started with our school and if they move at a certain point in the year we do whatever we have to do," Wilson.
At north start elementary principal marcus wilson understands that these kids have a lot on their plates at such a young age, but still stresses the importance a good education will have on their lives.
"The best thing that we can do here is provide a stable atmosphere and provide a compassionate and caring atmosphere for them, but constantly stress to the kids you know this is the one thing in your life that can help change your life for the better and that's focusing in on your education," Wilson.
Having been with the title 1 program for 15 years there is one thing principal wilson wants to say. 
"I'm thankful for the people that work in that program because it is it takes a considerable amount of coordinating to make sure these kids are getting home after school and doing after school programs and things like that and it's amazing that they're able to keep track of all those kids and get them home safely," Wilson.

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