By Eugenia Jones
We typically don’t think of children being homeless in McCreary County; however, for school classification purposes, there are children in McCreary County who can be classified as homeless and are eligible to receive extra services and support. With proper identification, children classified as homeless can receive services to help them overcome educational, social, and economic barriers. According to Jennifer Akin, local liaison for homeless children in the McCreary County School District, school-age children may qualify for certain rights and protections under the federal McKinney-Verito Act if they and their family are living in a shelter, motel or campground due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations, in a car, park, abandoned building, or bus or train station. Children may also qualify if their family is living in a situation where they are doubled up with other people due to loss of housing or economic hardship. Children residing in “inadequate” housing may also qualify. Inadequate housing includes places not meant for people to live: e.g. porch, barn, storage unit, streets, car, etc. and substandard housing that is unsafe, not up to code. Individuals who need guidance as to determining inadequate housing should contact the District liaison. Homeless situations can also arise when children are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.
“Our goal is to help improve the situation for homeless children and their families,” Akin said. “Ideally, we want to see families stay together, and children still get the support they are entitled to receive. Children who are homeless or in accommodations that are inadequate are impacted even when they are at school. It’s only natural that children’s minds are focused on their living arrangements. By identifying homeless children, we hope to make things better for them at home and at school. ”
If you believe your children may be eligible or know a child who may be eligible, contact the District liaison to find out what services and supports may be available. There also may be supports available for preschool-ag children.
For more information, contact District liaison Jennifer Akin at 606-376-2591.