The Homeless Education Committee at CCH held its second meeting on Monday to pave the way for the future course of action to ensure the rights of homeless students and their families.
CCH has done work around education and homeless families since 1997, but the work of the Education Committee is the first effort that has come out of grassroots organizing. Organizers have spent the last year in one-on-one meetings with parents, students, and educators. Eight listening sessions have been conducted at high schools, social service agencies, and shelters. Through this work organizers have identified leaders on the issue of education for homeless students. Now the committee is beginning to shape the campaign that the committee will work to improve homeless students’ access to a quality education.
This week’s committee meeting was attended by 15 members, including people who experienced homelessness as a youth, an educator, and parents of students.
Maria Perez, mother of four, explained how outreach has helped her: “I know my rights now through the coalition, and now I want my children to be served properly.”
The committee unanimously decided to kick-start outreach at schools to increase awareness among students and parents. Ms. Perez explained she wants to be a part of the outreach to help parents who struggle on their own and don’t know what questions to ask from the school administration. The outreach will start at three schools, one each on the city’s West Side, North Side and South Side.
“Our children have hopes and dreams. A lot of times when you are homeless, you are stereotyped and looked down on, told what you can do and what you can’t do… I think it’s important to get an education because it is the how you get away from some of the daily stresses that you go through on the streets,” said parent Marilyn Escoe.
Those at the meeting agreed that education brings stability to otherwise uncertain and difficult lives of homeless kids. It is important that kids go to school on daily basis.
“I love the decisions that we made in working together to improve the education system, and hopefully change some things to make education better for youth,” said Crystal Sahler, a formerly homeless youth.
– Shruti Sharma, New Media Volunteer