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Housing crisis sent homeless student numbers soaring

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POSTED November 24, 2013 6:13 p.m.

Manteca Unified’s Transitional Student Success Program can be a haven for homeless students.

Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, these are youngsters who may lack a fixed, regular or adequate night place to stay.

According to MUSD Health Services, some 400 students, at last count, fall under this category.

“Those numbers are bit high given that the school year isn’t over,” said Peg Krueger, who, along with Lynda Donelson, is a homeless liaison case manager under Caroline Thibodeau.

Last year, the district served 710 students.

TSSP defines homeless as the following:

• Those living in a shelter (family shelter, domestic violence shelter, youth shelter, or transitional housing).

• Families in a motel, hotel or weekly rate housing such as a single-room occupancy hotel.

• Those temporarily staying in a house or apartment with more than one family because of loss of housing or economic hardship.

• Anyone in an abandon building, car, campground, or on the street.

• A student who stays with friends or family and considered a runaway or unaccompanied youth.

Once a student is identified at the school site, he or she is referred to TSSP under MUSD Health Services.

Some of the TSSP services include keeping students enrolled in school while accessing educational and immunization records.

As part of the No Child Left Behind mandate, they’re allowed to remain at their school site. “Those who switch from school to school can lose three to six months of academic instruction,” Krueger said.

Students, under the free and reduced plan, are also afforded free meals at school along with a bus or transportation pass.

The unofficial numbers, according Debbie Forte, who is MUSD Director of Compensatory Education, is 11,591 students fall under the free-meal plan. Another 2,671 qualify for the reduced meal plan.

Under TSSP, they’re given referrals to community resources.

In some case, youngsters are even provided with free school supplies.

Krueger recalled that 2008 was a tough year for TSSP. That’s when housing market tanked along with the economy.

“We saw a jump with 200 more students,” she said.

Krueger pointed out that the economy may be improving, but she still sees plenty of instability at the homes of students.

There are those who live in households in which their parents are unemployed or under employed, working a part-time job rather than full-time.

“Housing is still expensive and there are those who face eviction (at their home),” she said.

Health Services also provide families with referrals to the various food pantries throughout the area along with the shelters in San Joaquin County and the Clothes Closets offered at the elementary and high school sites.

More information can be obtained by calling MUSD Health Services at 209-858-0782.

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