NEWPORT, Ky. - You'd never guess that the children at summer camp at Happen Inc. in Northside don't have a permanent place to call home.
"Children experiencing homelessness are often living in shelters, doubled up in places that are hot and cramped in neighborhoods that may not be the safest so we try and get those kids out of that environment into a learning environment and also where they're having a lot of fun," said Beth Griffith-Niemann of Faces Without Places.
They can simply enjoy being at camp because of Faces Without Places, a non-profit serving the needs of homeless students in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.
"Kentucky has the second highest number of children experiencing homelessness in the nation," Griffith-Niemann said.
Mike Wills, Director of Pupil Personnel with Newport Independent Schools, says the number of homeless students increased from the 2011 to 2012 school year. In 2012 there were 183 students experiencing homelessness in the district. And nearly 30 percent of newly enrolled students were homeless last year.
"Right now, we have a dire need for these people and we need to help those families and those students," said Wills.
The school board approved a $50,000 grant that allows them to hire a new homeless education program coordinator in the fall and provide vital services.
"Maybe they started out here, they became homeless this year or last year and they may be living in another part of Northern Kentucky," Wills said. "But under the McKinney-Vento Act, they could still come to school to here if they wish to do so. I don't run bus services, but I could buy them tokens."
Wills hopes they can find a bilingual candidate because many of the homeless students are Hispanic.
"If it's a language barrier, they may not understand the things of immunizations laws of school physicals of somebody who will not only help them when they enroll but literally take them to those community based services and ensure that they get them," said Wills.
Newport Independent Schools plans to start interviewing for the new homeless education program coordinator in the next week and a half so in your interested, they encourage you to apply.
C ontact any of the Family/Youth Resource Services Coordinators below for assistance or for information about where you can help:
Primary School: Molly Wesley-Chevalier at 859-431-6662
Intermediate School: Beth Lange at 859-431-3007
Middle School: Paul Baker at 859-292-0552
High School: Donna Watts at 859-431-7111