NH schools to receive more funds to support homeless children

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Last week, the state’s Department of Education announced the release of federal funds including more than $ 90,000 for area schools to support homeless students.

When Congress approved the US bailout in March, the COVID-19 stimulus package included $ 800 million to help homeless students across the country. This money is now flowing to local learners.

More than $ 1.7 million has been donated to 52 schools across Granite State, according to an Oct. 27 press release from the NH Department of Education.

Nearly 240 students in the Monadnock region experienced homelessness during the 2019-2020 school year, according to departmental data. Statistics for the most recent year are currently being validated and will be available next month, department spokeswoman Kimberly Houghton said in an email.

The US bailout provides additional Title I money, which is provided to schools with large numbers of students from low-income families, according to the US Department of Education.

Title I funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including identifying homeless students or covering the costs of health and transport services.

The Monadnock Regional School District, which covers Fitzwilliam, Gilsum, Richmond, Roxbury, Swanzey and Troy, received $ 13,000 in the recently released funding. And although Monadnock officials have yet to determine how the money will be spent, it will provide new opportunities to tackle homelessness in the district, according to Deputy Superintendent Jeremey Rathbun.

“This extra money allows us to do extra things that we weren’t able to do,” he said. “And we’re excited about it.”

School officials have discussed potential uses for the money and are seeking the advice of Monadnock families who are homeless to see what their needs are, Rathbun said.

People are often surprised that schools can help families with various challenges, such as providing clothes or arranging dental appointments, Rathbun said. The district has some ideas on how US bailout funds could be used, including drawing attention to homelessness issues, he said.

An awareness campaign would not only allow families to know that help is available, but also inform minors who do not live with a parent or guardian that they have options and help staff know what to expect. ‘he can do if he identifies students in transitional housing situations.

“Once we have this strong input from the public and feel comfortable that the ideas we have are the best way to use these funds,” he said, “we will put them to work. “.

As assistance programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic come to an end, the timing may be especially difficult for families without stable housing, according to Jennifer Alexander, the McKinney-Vento liaison for the Keene School District. (The McKinney-Vento Act of 1987 requires schools to provide services and support to homeless youth.)

“I can say that since the lifting of the moratorium on evictions, I have noticed a greater number of families who are split… and being doubled – not by choice but by hardship – is part of the definition of l ‘roaming,’ she said. , referring to a temporary ban on residential evictions established earlier in the pandemic. The statewide housing crisis is making it even more difficult for families to find suitable housing, she said.

In his role with the Keene School District, Alexander works with students and their families to ensure children receive the support they need to do well in school. This can take many forms, she said, including arranging transport for students who might leave the neighborhood but wish to remain enrolled in their “home school”, buying clothes and school supplies, registering students at a free or reduced lunch, or even buy sports equipment for children involved in extracurricular activities. These services are covered by federal Title I funds, she said.

Keene received about $ 23,000 under the ARP, according to the Department of Education.

Other districts in the region are receiving shares ranging from $ 141.75 in Harrisville to $ 14,316.75 for ConVal.

The Winchester School District received approximately $ 10,000. Business manager Teresa Taylor said the funds – which will be “budgeted and used as needed” – are not sent directly to the district, but the district will be refunded once the money has been spent on pre-funding. approved.

Districts that received less than $ 5,000 must form a consortium in order to receive the funds, according to the press release from the Department of Education. Once a consortium is formed, participating districts can pool funds to be used jointly or divide them into initial allocations, with one district acting as the grant administrator in either case, according to Houghton, a spokesperson for the department.

These articles are shared by The Granite State News Collaborative partners. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.


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