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Program gives homeless kids stability

SAN ANTONIO - There are an estimated 1,700 children in the Northside Independent School District alone who are in transition.

Instead of living in the district, they may live at the Haven for Hope Shelter, or other homeless shelters. However, a federally-backed program is allowing them to stay at their same school, no matter where their family has to move to.

"I graduate in February so hopefully I can start working and get out of the program and move back to the Northside School District," said Sara, a homeless mother of three, who is taking advantage of the program called Connections.

Homeless for months now, Sara's kids still get a bus ride all the way to their old school district for free. The different districts buses work together, picking up and dropping off kids from all over the city.

"You don't know when you are going to have to get up again and move again," NISD social worker JoAnn Buitron said. "So at least the stability they have is their education and where they go to school, and their friends and their teachers."

Buitron said in the past several years, more families are participating in the program, unknown to anyone else.

"They are on the honor roll. They participate in extracurricular activities at school. You couldn't tell them apart from any other student," she said.

Connections and other district programs like it are required by the federal and state-funded McKinney Act. It requires school districts to seek out students who show signs of being homeless and guarantee right and protection to them.


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