ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–With schools going virtual, Anderson School Districts need your help identifying and assisting students who are homeless.
In a typical school year, Anderson school districts identify hundreds of students who are homeless, and specialist said there could be many more out there. Now that COVID-19 has forced things to be different, they’re calling on you to help with the fight.
“It could be anywhere, where they’re living in their cars, abandoned buildings… living in non-livable, condemned homes,” said Lisa Butler, Homeless & Foster Care Liaison, Anderson School District Five.
Each school year, that’s the reality for nearly 400 children in Anderson School District Five who are identified as homeless.
“Just because we identify them that much in district five, we know there’s a lot more out there,” Butler said.
The same hardships can be seen in Anderson School District two, with a population of about 3,700 students.
“Typically we have identified around 12 or so to 20,” said Teresa Phillips, Mental Health Services & Project Aware Coordinator, Anderson School District Two.
With schools going virtual, it presents more challenges and concerns.
“It’s going to be a little more difficult because a lot of times if they’re in the classroom, a lot of times they may open up to a teacher or even a bus driver…and something is said,” Butler said.
“We’ve done home visits, but now it’s kind of like are we allowed back in the home, due to COVID,” Butler said.
District liaisons said they will continue to provide support with things like clothes, household items, and more. They’re even having to get creative with monitoring digital learners.
“I’ll rely on the virtual teachers to probably kind of give me a heads up also,” Butler said.
“We will serve those students through our counseling department, through our department of mental health as well,” Phillips said.
Butler said many in the community have helped with their efforts. However, with limited funding available to support districts in combating the problem, they’re now counting on you to lend a helping hand.
“We don’t know how many students we’re going to have, so we do rely on the donations of people,” Butler said. “What we need is people to look out for their neighbors!”
Anderson School District Five said they will re-apply for federal funds in the McKinney Vento Homeless Education Program. If awarded, they will receive $45,000 for a year.