Homelesss Children – They Need a Roof over their Heads … and more!
By Edith Morgan
The global pandemic has forced most of us to stay home – and we have been grateful that we have a home to stay in. But the loss of jobs, the economic devastation that has been visited on so many has been especially hard on families and children. As rents and mortgages become due, more and more families are finding themselves evicted or just one payment away from homelessness. Living in your car, or seeking shelter under a bridge, visiting soup kitchens and various charitable institutions for food and clothing, pitching a tent in some park or other open space – and not knowing what the next day will bring – those things are scarcely designed to help our children grow up safely and healthfully.
Our Worcester Public Schools, before the pandemic closed them down, were supplying free breakfasts and lunches for needy children. Some of our Worcester Public Schools also had free clothing and outerwear and shoes for kids – like Andy’s Attic Gently Used Clothing Shop at South High School on Apricot Street.
Recently, I have heard of somewhere in our schools where washing machines and dryers were installed, since a number of our students’ parents had no facilities for washing their clothes. This is so important – especially in the upper grades where appearance counts so much!!
But as the pandemic continues, and our children are still not back in our school physically – Worcester Public Schools special needs students return in mid-March: the rest of the kids at the end of March – for at least two days of in-school learning.
But for kids who are homeless the struggles are multiplied. Of course they cannot participate in virtual learning via Internet and hooked up computers and laptops: they have none of the equipment required, nor the power outlets to plug them into.
Our schools have made attempts to find and help these homeless children, to create individual help programs, but the numbers are overwhelming, and the delays in the arrival of vaccines are making the problems even greater.
I fully understand the desire of teachers to be vaccinated before re-entering the classroom, and they should be up there with the first responders – but then we should prioritize bringing homeless children into a 24-hour situation, out of the streets, with a regular address.
If you have never been homeless, you cannot appreciate how vital it is to have a legitimate address. Our whole society functions on the assumption that you have a permanent place to call home – a P.O. BOX IS NOT ENOUGH. And, while we are at it, we need to work out a reliable system for:
🌸1) preventing evictions and foreclosures
🌸2) having a real “wrap-around system” for making certain that homeless families can get out of the hole and stay out
🌸… and 3) that those formerly homeless children are followed through their years in our schools – social workers etc. Who knows, some day they may become the helpers and role models for the future, because unfortunately, our economic systems pretty much guarantees homelessness for many … occasions when many people will need help …