There are homeless students within the Fargo Public School System. Learn the difficulties they face and how you can help.
By Fargo Public Schools Homeless Liaison Jan Anderson
Comments from students experiencing homelessness
I live in a hotel with my mom and four siblings. Sometimes my cousin also stays with us when my mom babysits. He doesn’t know about having to be quiet at the hotel or that we have to share the space in our room. I wish people at the school would know that it can be very stressful. I worry about not having enough food or money to do laundry. One of the hardest things about being homeless is not getting enough sleep. I have rough nights and can’t get enough sleep. I’m dealing with four little siblings in the crowded living situation my family is in. It is so crowded. One of the most frustrating things about coming to school is dealing with other teen’s drama. Most of it isn’t important compared to the things I worry about. When I graduate I want to go to college.
I stay with my brother and whoever else happens to crash there. It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep as they are often partying. Getting to school is hard because I don’t always like to take the city bus and the school bus doesn’t come to where I am staying. It gets cold waiting for the city bus and it can take a long time to get where I am going. I wish the school would understand that it really is harder to take care of myself alone than they think it is. Sometimes my brother and I fight and I have to go stay with a friend for a few days. That screws up my bus schedule and I don’t always get to school. I get frustrated when I have to figure everything out on my own – like getting food, clothes, and school stuff. When I am done with high school I want to go to college.
Who is Homeless?
The McKinney-Vento Act states that children and youth who lack “a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” will be considered homeless [42 U.S.C. §11434A(2)(A)].
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act guarantees the rights of students experiencing homelessness. The act has guidelines for eligibility, services, and rights. Each situation is looked at individually to determine if the student qualifies for services under the act. In our district, a housing questionnaire is completed when online registration is completed. Those questionnaires that indicate a possible homeless student are forwarded to my email. I also become aware of other possible homeless situations via referrals from counselors, social workers, registrars, food service personnel, etc. Each referral is contacted and a determination is made. If the student is experiencing homelessness, a needs assessment is completed and services are started.
I consider it an honor and privilege to be Fargo Public School’s Homeless Liaison. I get to go to work each and every day and work with phenomenal families and unaccompanied youth that are experiencing homelessness. Every day I get to see the resiliency and strength of strong parents and students, the compassion of our staff when working with our students, and the never-ending generosity of our community.
If you have any questions about homeless students, services available, or need to make a referral, please contact me, Jan Anderson, Fargo Public Schools Homeless Liaison, at email@example.com or call 701.446.3113.
Together, we can help all students to succeed.