The Title I Homeless Education Program utilizes many avenues to provide the necessary educational support for students who lack stable housing.
Four champions in the Title I Department of CCSD work magic every day in support of our students who lack stable housing. Much of what Brenda Degioanni, Dayna Parker, Anita McCurley, and Suzanne Webb do is behind the scenes. Their main goal is to remove barriers faced by these students which can hinder access to an equitable education. They serve as grant writers, interviewers, data collectors, lines of communication, and more. Each case is treated with the utmost of care using the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act as a basis for determining homeless eligibility. These women work tirelessly to identify those who qualify as homeless and then to remove all possible challenges to educational stability. In the end, every child has a story to be told before a determination of homeless eligibility is made. Referrals come from schools, agencies, and families. Many days, all four advocates are on the phone from early morning until late afternoon making the connections necessary for our students to thrive educationally, regardless of their lack of sufficient residence. Because homeless students are frequently transient, transportation to their schools of origin is the number one educational barrier. The HEP staff works closely with our CCSD Transportation Department to meet the goal of providing educational stability with necessary transit. Stacks of book bags line the wall in the HEP office. They are filled with the necessary tools for student success and are available when a child is in need. Whether in elementary, middle, or high school, every child can attend school prepared with appropriate materials. School social workers, counselors, cafeteria managers, enrollment clerks, bus drivers, and school administrators work as a team and are crucial in providing support. The HEP staff also collaborates with local agencies to ensure educational stability for students. Just last year alone 1,661 Cobb County School District students PreK-12 were served by our Homeless Education Program. The HEP office is proud to say of the 83 students who were seniors, 56 students graduated and 24 of them completed the FAFSA (The Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to attend college. When challenges are removed and families are supported, it’s amazing the successes that can follow. No obstacle is too difficult, no question too big for these ladies. They dig until finding the answers that best suit the students’ needs, and they prove that on a daily basis.
Tiffany Honore´, Director
Delores Thompson, Supervisor
Natalie Hutchins, Supervisor
Contributing Author: Marti Rosner, Coach