CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — We see homeless people on the side of the roads or crowding CIty Hall. But they are not the only ones that are categorized as "homeless." We forget about the children that fall into a situation that they can't change. Specifically, we looked into how school districts such as the Corpus Christi Independent School District, helps and leads the way for these kids that are homeless.
Roy Miller High School Principal, Dr. Bruce Evans, explained that working in a few schools across CCISD made him realize the amount of students that were considered homeless and unaccompanied youth, a child not in the custody of a legal guardian. He says he noticed familiar faces when he volunteered at a soup kitchen in town.
"In talking to students, they don't see themselves as homeless." Bruce says, "because they see it as just that, 'this is our lifestyle', 'this is our life,' 'this is what we know.'"
Dr. Wilson is a well respected principal at Miller H.S. He says some kids will come in his office to sit and talk. And all they want is for someone to talk to them and listen. "They're happy on the surface, everything is 'fine, fine, fine.' You do that follow up meeting with them, then you start getting a little bit more about this is what's going on, these are my challenges."
CCISD is required to give certain rights to students experiencing homelessness, through the McKinney-Vento Act. CCISD offers food, backpacks with school supplies, clothing, blankets, and toiletries. There are numerous agencies and organizations, such as the Coastal Bend Food Bank and Communities in Schools that partner up with the district to help provide these services and necessities for the students. One of the many ways the district knows of a child's situation, is through the Student Residency Questionnaire form. With questions regarding living situation and unaccompanied youth status.
"The homeless students are not just those who are staying in the shelters, there are those who are living in the motels or hotels around here. There are those whose families are doubled up with others," says Dr. Wilson,
KRIS 6 was introduced to Issac, a 19 year old senior. He dressed up in tie and green button-up with nice pants, prepared to talk. He knew of his situation. Issac was the second oldest amongst his siblings. Most of his life was spent moving around from San Antonio, Mexico, Houston, and different parts of Corpus Christi. Either living with his family, or separated living with different people or family members. "At some times I was fortunate, like really fortunate to have a place to stay," says Issac. "And at some times I was very unfortunate, I had to like, go through a little bit of suffering to go through like, the point where there's no Christmas. There won't be able to be a Christmas. Or won't be able to be a Halloween, or stuff like that. Or there won't be a moment of time where we're all together because we're too busy moving around, or basically struggling."
Currently, Issac is staying with a friend that he's known since middle school. "I've only been living with them for about a week now, more happy now. I guess I wouldn't say, satisfied satisfied. But, I'm more on the good side than ya know the bad side, now."
Issac found out about Communities in Schools through a friend at school. There is when he met Mr. David Drake. A mentor and instructor for anyone who walks into the room. If he does not have the clothes, food, or toiletries someone needs, he'll find a way to get it to them. Here is where Issac can relax and talk about anything on his mind with Mr. Drake. "Basically everything you know, i have counselors who help me when I'm feeling down or not feeling mentally right," Issac says, "And I have Mr. Drake ya know, sometimes when I may not have a toothbrush, or I don't have this or don't have that. or some things, like I need a sweater or coat, ya know, he can provide that."
Communities in Schools is just one of the many organizations through CCISD that helps students, offering clothing, food, school supplies and essential necessities. They provide a mentor, such as Mr. Drake, that will be there for a student when they need a trusting adult.
"So for our unaccompanied youth that we have that don't have that moral support at home, because they don't have parents that are taking care of them. Communities in Schools becomes that parent for them," says CCISD Homeless Liaison, Susana Majors. Majors explains that many other organizations and agencies have helped give support to the at-risk students within the district. At Flour Bluff ISD, there are currently 48 students that are categorized as homeless. Tuloso-Midway, 4. West Oso and Calallen did not respond with an exact number. All districts are required to give services such as toiletries, essential items, food, clothing for these students. Many districts provide free lunch and breakfast as well as free transportation. All districts are always needing donations of anykind; clothing, blankets, toiletries, food, and school supplies.
"in October we usually have 800 children, by the end of May we normally identify one-thousand, eight hundred children that are homeless," says Majors.
On the surface, all school districts in the Corpus Christi area are doing what they need to help these students succeed and continue their education. Many schools go above and beyond mentoring their students to the best of their ability, and always having a listening ear. When asked about advice Issac would give to someone in his situation he says, "just go to somebody that's able to help you and able to know that you are not alone. And that no matter what, that you're always going to have somebody."