Many of the stories involving the 680 homeless students – the number for this year alone – in the Manteca Unified School District are nearly mirror images when it comes to the scenarios. In the following case stories, care has been taken so as to protect the identities of the students with no names mentioned.
CASE STORY #1
The husband and wife were deported to their country of origin because of their felony arrests. Their conviction was such that they are never allowed to come back to the United States. Their two minor children, however, were born here and are U.S. citizens. With the deportation of their parents, the young high school students were considered homeless and are receiving assistance from the school district’s Health Services department.
CASE STORY #2
Two brothers were sent to the United States by their parents, who lived in another country, so that their children could get a better education in this country. Since they were under-aged, not yet 18 years old, they needed a place to stay while they went to school. Fortunately for the siblings, someone stepped up and offered them the use of one of the bedrooms at his home. They were not allowed to eat meals with the family, but at least, the young boys were allowed to have a television set in their room. These two young students are technically called “unaccompanied youth,” a term that falls under the homeless students category.
CASE STORY #3
A family was staying in a hotel – at least, the mother was with the children. The father was not there when the family’s plight was brought to the attention of the Manteca Unified’s Health Services by the San Joaquin County Child Protective Services. The father had taken a younger son and disappeared for a week or two. None of the children, who ranged from elementary- to high school-age, were enrolled in school. Initial assessment of their situation also inferred that the children have never attended school. But they could read and write “a little bit.” The family came to California from another state. None of the children had a birth certificate which was needed to enroll them in school. The mother did not have a birth certificate, didn’t have a driver’s license, and actually has never driven a car at all. MUSD Health Services helped the family by getting the children’s birth certificates – which was a challenge since the kids were born in different places around the country – obtaining a California ID for the mother, and getting them out of motels where they paid cash to a homeless shelter. There’s a happy ending to this story, which is a rarity, said Health Services Director Caroline Thibodeau. The mother got a job. The children are going to school and are doing well. And now, they are in a transitional home. The father re-appeared one day, only to leave again.
CASE STORY #4
The young student kept coming to school exhausted. He kept falling asleep during class. When school staff visited the apartment where the family lived, they found out that the student was tired all the time because there are people coming in and out of the small apartment all night long. The apartment had two tiny bedrooms – with the grandmother having one of the rooms – plus a small living room and kitchen/dining area, and one bathroom. The mother was around but was doing drugs. With help from Health Services, a temporary guardianship involving a relative of the student, “who wanted to care for him,” was arranged through the court. The young student was described as “a bright kid.’