School employees prepare gifts for homeless students

Ponca City Now - December 17, 2015 1:17 pm

Several employees of the Ponca City Public School Central Administration Office are working to make sure Ponca City’s homeless students have a happy holiday.

Employees are shown filling bags with coats, shoes and more. The school district has identified 273 students, in grades Pre-kindergarten through eighth , who are considered homeless based on criteria set by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act by the U.S. Department of Education.

“All of these students were very excited to receive their bag stuffed with gifts," said Barbara Cusick, Executive Director of Curriculum for Ponca City Schools. " The counselors spoke with each student on the list to identify their needs."

She said the 55 students at Po-Hi being served got to go shopping and select their own coat and shoes.

"We were able to purchase these items with district Title I funds for all Ponca City School students who qualify as ‘homeless’," Cusick said . "Students receiving these items are either living with another family because they can’t afford to rent a home of their own, living in shelters, living in motels, living in a home with no electricity and/or running water, or living on their own without an adult serving as caregiver."

Cusick said parents complete a student questionnaire during registration and may qualify based on their living arrangements. School counselors and/or principals may recommend services for needy students as well.

Student eligibility includes:

  • Living temporarily with another family member or friend until affordable housing is available
  • In an emergency or transitional shelter
  • In a vehicle, park, campground, or on the streets
  • In a house, building, or trailer WITHOUT running water or electricity
  • In a hotel or motel
  • With an adult that is not a parent or legal guardian
  • Alone or in different locations, without an adult serving as a caregiver
  • Wherever I can find a place to stay at night

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act was created to work with each state educational agency to ensure that each child of a homeless individual and each homeless youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths.

It also ensures that all homeless children and youths should have access to the education and other services that such children and youths need to ensure that such children and youths have an opportunity to meet the same challenging State Student Academic Achievement Standards to which all students are held.

Services provided by the district include:

  • Free breakfast and lunch
  • Payment of fees for extra-curricular activities
  • School supplies
  • Clothing, toiletries, laundry supplies
  • Fees for ACT, PSAT, PLAN testing
  • Graduation costs – cap and gown, etc.

L to R – Top left:

From left, Monique Birch & Jan Miller
Top right: Barbara Cusick, Teri Vogele, Monique Birch, Jan Miller, Carla Webb


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