Homeless Students in Fargo Public Schools

By Jan Anderson, Fargo Public Schools Homeless Liaison

Homeless students often describe school as a home to them – a place where they can be around friends and caring adults, have a predictable routine, and be like any other kid.

Education is the key to preventing homelessness for today’s children and youth. Many homeless students will name a school employee as the trusted adult in their life.

I often get asked this question: “Do we have homeless students in Fargo Public Schools, and if we do, are there very many of them?” The answer to both of these questions is, “Yes.” During the 2012-2013 school year, approximately 200 students were identified as homeless. We average about 60-70 homeless students each day.

If a family or unaccompanied youth lives in any of the following, they are considered homeless:

  • A shelter, motel, car, or campground
  • On the street
  • In an abandoned building or trailer
  • With friends/relatives because they can’t afford housing.

Each school district is required by law to have a homeless liaison to work with these families and unaccompanied youth. If you identify a family or unaccompanied youth living in one of these situations, please contact Jan Anderson, Fargo Public Schools Homeless Liaison. We also contract with the YWCA for additional support with our homeless families. Our YWCA contact is Holly Williams.

We are very fortunate to live in a caring and giving community. A couple of years ago, two very special women, Michelle Warren and Jenny Schuster, started taking senior pictures for homeless students free of cost.  Word spread and others gladly donated to the cause to help defray the expense. Now, Jenny Schuster, along with the Park Company Realtors and Mathew’s Voice Project, have hooked up with the Fargo Mini Marathon to raise funds for additional items not covered by grant money. Please click on the link to read more about this event:  http://fargominimarathon.com/MVP.htm

Students identified as homeless are entitled to assistance with school registration, the right to stay at their school of origin, transportation assistance if necessary, school supplies, the right to participate in school events, free breakfast and lunch, tutoring, and many other services.

For more information about homeless students and available services, contact Jan Anderson at 701.446.1013, or anderja@fargo.k12.nd.us.

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