Homelessness impacts students as they head back to school

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Local students deal with homelessness as they head back to school (WTVD)

Back to school usually brings moms to tears as they watch their little ones scurry off to the classroom.

However, one local mother's eyes fill with tears for another reason.

"We looked over the school list yesterday ... and some of the things on that list for junior high are going to be next to impossible to get," Dana said."

Dana and her two daughters, Joia and her older sister Idara, are technically considered homeless, though they live in a residential facility as Dana works through a program.

Both are bright girls with a lot to look forward to. But the pair isn't like many of the students in their classroom.

"My friends didn't believe me at first because I wear good clothes," Idara admits. Her clothes come from the Durham Rescue Mission Thrift Store.

Dana and her two daughter's story aren't unfamiliar to Melody Marshall, who serves as the homeless liaison for Durham Public Schools.

She says that at the end of the school year the last year, the 53 schools that make up the district identified nearly 1,000 students as homeless.

"Not one school in Durham is immune to homelessness," Marshall said. "Every school has a child that has been identified as homeless."

Durham Public Schools says they have around 33,000 students enrolled in their school district.

Roughly 3 percent identify as homeless - that breaks down to 20 students per school, with just over one person per class.

Marshall says that the number of students identified increases by about 100 every year.

If we know that education is a key to breaking the cycle of poverty, what can the community do to help?

Marshall says that just being aware that this is the reality for some kids is a start.

Donations to the classroom can also be extremely beneficial to students. More information on Student and Family Assistance with Durham Public Schools can be found here: https://www.dpsnc.net

If you are interested in making a back to school donation, the Durham Rescue Mission is always accepting. Click here for more information.
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