A Dubois Area Principal tells us there are about 70 homeless students in the school district.
And with 51,000 in grant money they plan to give these students a helping hand over the next three years.
“They hear that term homeless and automatically they think, you know, all that family is living in a, and that does happen. It, it does, but it can be as simple as a house fire, a working family, you know, the older students,maybe in college, it can affect any family.”
The Department Of Education identifed 38,000 Pennsylvania students as homeless during the 2019-2020 schoolyear. And the National Center For Homelessness education said over 1.5 million students reported homelessness nationwide between 2017 and 18.
And that was before the pandemic.
“So homeless means individuals who lack a fixed and regular, adequate nighttime residence. So basically, they don’t have a place to put their head to sleep at night.”
He says transportation, a big expense for many people, is a big budget item for them.
But he says they want to go further than that.
“Aside from transportation, other student supports that can be covered through this grant are basic hygiene items. We give packets of soap, toothpaste, deodorant, things like that to students in need. We can give basic clothing items to students to get them through hard times”
He says some money could also go toward temporary housing at hotels for families and getting seniors the necessary credits to graduate.
He says the federal money was allocated down to the states, and then Harrisburg divvied that money to almost every district in Pennsylvania. The amount given to school districts was based on how many students they identified consistently year after year as homeless.
“It is not unique to Dubois. Almost every school district, public school district here in Pennsylvania received that money.”
Dombroski says they’ve had a program for the homeless before but on a smaller scale.
He recognizes that it’s one thing to give someone a home, but it’s another to make some feel at home.
“And it goes far beyond just homeless students. You know, every student that walks in our door is greeted, and I know this is district-wide, greeted by adults at those front doors, ‘Good morning,’ a smiling face. They know this is a place that cares for them and wants them to succeed.”