ShareThis Page
For homeless kids, school can be ‘place of stability’ |

For homeless kids, school can be ‘place of stability’

| Saturday, April 9, 2011 12:00 a.m

Terrance Moses bounced from shelters to motels to relatives’ homes, trying to maintain a sense of normalcy during his childhood.

“Coming from a family of 12, it wasn’t always easy on Mom,” said Moses, 19, one of an estimated 1,700 homeless students in Allegheny County. “It was hard sometimes. Sometimes we didn’t have anybody to turn to.”

Moses and about 250 people from social service agencies, educational institutions, supporting foundations and elected offices on Friday attended Summit II at the Rivers Club, Downtown, to discuss better ways to identify and educate homeless children.

“This is a group of kids who are in many ways invisible and forgotten,” said Charles LaVallee, director of the Homeless Education Network, a coalition of organizations. “They’re special people deserving of dignity … and all the resources we can give them.”

For a homeless student, “school is the one thing that perhaps doesn’t change,” said Barbara Duffield, policy director for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. “School can be that place of stability … be the place where they get the skills they need to escape poverty.”

Researchers estimate there are about 43,000 homeless children in Pennsylvania and about 1 million nationwide. Officials said the economic downturn since 2008 has increased student homelessness.

Identifying homeless students enables administrators to help them with school enrollment, meals and special education programs, said Joseph F. Lagana, founder of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, which set up 11 learning centers in shelters. It offers summer programs and money for field trips.

“We exposed the problem. Now we’re working with shelters and families to bring them all together,” Lagana said.

Moses, who drew a standing ovation for a rap song he performed about his experience, will graduate from Sto-Rox High School in McKees Rocks in June.

With the skills he learned at Parkway West Career & Technology Center in North Fayette, Moses hopes to follow through on a promise he made to his mother.

“I always told Mom, ‘I’m going to build you a house one day,'” he said. “I’m going to do everything I have to do to build my mom that house.”

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.