Charleston Co. Schools program to host resource fair for homeless families

Published: Jul. 10, 2023 at 2:12 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2023 at 11:53 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - More than 400 students in the Charleston County School District face the challenge of homelessness.

To help address this issue, the Charleston County McKinney-Vento program is working to provide support to these families and ensure they have the necessary assistance.

On July 29 from 11 a.m. -2 p.m., they will be hosting an event called Serving The Unhoused and Underserved. The program aims to provide stability and support for homeless students and their families as they navigate difficult circumstances.

Sonya Jones, compliance director for the McKinney-Vento program, says many parents are unaware of their rights when facing homelessness or displacement. She emphasized that parents have the right to keep their child enrolled in their current school or enroll them in the school nearest to their temporary residence, be it a hotel, shelter, or doubled-up situation.

“They can enroll the student in the school where they’re currently residing whether that be in a hotel location or shelter or doubled up situations and a lot of our families are unaware that they have those options,” Jones said.

The McKinney-Vento Program focuses not only on ensuring students’ rights but also on understanding their specific needs. This includes providing clothing, transportation, and referrals to external agencies for food, medical care, and housing.

By partnering with community organizations, the program aims to address the various dynamics within families that the district may not have the capacity to assist with directly.

Even if a student moves outside the county or zoned area for their school, the McKinney-Vento Program still upholds their rights.

“They still have the right to come back to their school of origin, and we would provide the transportation,” Jones said. “However, certain circumstances, such as long commutes due to traffic, may make it infeasible for students to attend their original school. In such cases, the program works diligently to find alternative solutions to ensure students can complete their education without losing credits.”

The “Serving the Unhoused and Underserved” event will work to bring resources and organizations together in one place for the people who need them. It will focus on six pillars to address the needs of homeless and displaced families. These pillars include education, employment, food, mental health, transportation, and housing.

Partnering with organizations like Trident Tech and SC Works, the program aims to provide educational and employment opportunities, as well as access to transportation services through partnerships with CARTA and a nonprofit founded by Elliot Middleton.

The event, open to the entire Charleston County community, seeks to create stability for families and support them in flourishing.

With fun activities, food distribution, and giveaways, the event aims to cater to the various needs of families.

Collaboration with the Lowcountry Food Bank and local businesses ensures access to healthy food options and additional resources.