Homeless students?

Published 5:41 am Thursday, August 19, 2021

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August is the time parents and prekindergarten through 12th-grade students shop for clothes and school supplies as a new academic year begins. It is hard to comprehend that homeless students exist in our area, and their priorities are far beyond those school supply needs.

Robert N. “Bob” Holt

Over the last three academic years, Franklin has averaged 34 students per year classified as homeless. Furthermore, during that same time period, Southampton County has averaged 5, Isle of Wight 10, and Suffolk 53. The State of Virginia classifies students as homeless if they fit the following criteria: live on the street, live in a shelter, live in a hotel/motel, or live with other families on a temporary basis due to the loss of their permanent residence.

The last three years were researched because they cover pre-pandemic, pandemic, and school openings occurring as the pandemic subsided near the end of the 2020-21 school year. Can you imagine the thoughts that go through a young public school student’s mind concerning where they will spend the night, if food is adequate, and if they will have clean clothes to wear? It is difficult to focus on learning assignments during normal times nevertheless finding an internet connection to do online work.

Franklin Public Schools applied for and received additional federal Title 1 funds to support these students for class materials and supplies. 

The Franklin Division of Social Services works closely with parents of children facing the unique challenges of homelessness. DSS often seeks the assistance of ForKids, a nonprofit organization serving 14 cities and counties in Southeastern Virginia that specializes in finding housing solutions. The Franklin School Division, Franklin DSS, and ForKids work with homeless families to allow them to concentrate on their school work.

Amazing victories occur when agencies work together for the betterment of our citizens.

ROBERT N. “BOB” HOLT is a graduate of Franklin High School and Virginia Tech. He can be reached at hrobert@vt.edu.