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Stimulus money available to help serve homeless students

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By Jennifer Caldwell

Homelessness is a situation few expect to find themselves in.

Although many Campbell County residents are completely unaware of this obscure population, homelessness does exist and impacts people of all ages, including students.

To combat some of the issues that go along with being homeless, Campbell County schools were recently made aware that $3,233 will be available to the school system through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

These funds are intended to be used to meet the needs of students who are homeless.

According to Dr. Karen Bundren, federal programs director, there are approximately 22 students enrolled in county schools that are considered homeless.

Bundren said this population is mostly “self-identified” in that these families report their situations rather than her seeking them out.

“I don’t go snooping in their (students’) business to find out if they are homeless,” Bundren explained.

While there are a number of reasons families find themselves without a home, Bundren said the most common she sees is the result of abuse.

“Most of the (homeless) students are running from abusive situations,” Bundren stated, adding that the schools do all they can to ensure the safety of these students.

While the number of homeless students enrolled in Campbell County schools is small, Bundren said the money being offered through the ARRA stimulus money will be useful in “leveling the playing field” between those students who are homeless and those who are not.

Possible uses for the money include transportation and school supplies as well as paying fees associated with field trips, sports and other school related activities.

In a press release issued last week Gov. Phil Bredesen expressed the importance of this influx of money.

“The children and youth of Tennessee who are homeless are usually the victims of decisions outside of their control,” Bredesen said. “It is up to us to provide them access to education and other services, just like their peers, in hopes of improving their lives and opportunities for the future.”