Seminole County school district looking to reach more struggling families

Spectrum News 13 | by Eric Mock | April 13, 2021

Seminole County Public Schools stated it is seeing far fewer students than expected registered under a program, which helps students in unstable housing get food.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act also helps students continue their education at the same school, even if the family has to move multiple times in the year.  

Social worker Chaira Lopez tells a story of one family of Seminole County students that is played out too many times during this pandemic. 

“Unfortunately both parents lost their employment, therefore they lost their housing,” Lopez said. 

Lopez has seen the emotional and mental toll that constantly moving has had on the families’ three children. 

“One of them in particular was definitely going through I would say a depressive episode. ‘Mom, why are we in so-and-so’s house as opposed to being in our home? What happened? Why are you home all the time?’” Lopez revealed. 

Lopez says they see students doubling up in other families’ homes, and even living in hotels from Sanford to Altamonte Springs. 

But it’s the ones they do not see he is worried about. 

Usually, the school district has around 1,600 students registered under the McKinney Vento program. 

But right now the school district has only seen families register around 1,300 students this year. 

“What we would expect to see is an increase, because people are out of work and haven’t been able to provide for their family,” said Jania Fuller, a liaison for the district’s Families in Need office

She says not only do can they help with services from the McKinney Vento program, but they can also connect families with where to get temporary or permanent housing, like the Rescue Outreach Mission.

“We contact them on a regular basis, daily, multiple times a day possibly, just to make sure their families are able to be housed,” said Intake coordinator for the mission Krystine Schafer. 

That is just one of many reasons she says it is so important to have these families register with the district. 

“So if we’re not identifying them, we of course can’t get them connected to those resources,” Fuller said. 

Resources that have been invaluable for the family Lopez has helped.  

“The family is currently applying to take advantage of one of our housing programs here from Seminole County where they’re able to obtain housing subsidies,” Lopez said.

​If you or a family you know needs these resources in Seminole County, you can access the registration form here.

Or en español.

If you have any questions, you can go to the Families in Need website or call at 1-407-320-2025. ​

Image: Social worker Chaira Lopez tells a story of one family of Seminole County students that is played out too many times during this pandemic. (Spectrum News 13)

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