Call for fund­ing to help sup­port home­less kids

Ed­u­ca­tion suf­fers when fam­i­lies have no place to call home


AL­MOST 11,000 pri­mary and sec­ondary stu­dents sought as­sis­tance from home­less­ness ser­vices in Vic­to­ria in 2016-17.

And lo­cal home­less­ness ser­vices have con­firmed chil­dren in Rochester are not im­mune from the prob­lem.

The Coun­cil to Home­less Per­sons (CHP), the peak body for home­less­ness in Vic­to­ria, has warned that the chaos and tran­sience of home­less­ness is hav­ing ad­verse ef­fects on the ed­u­ca­tion of young peo­ple.

It has called for a spe­cialised pro­gram to sup­port kids ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness to stay in school.

In a state bud­get sub­mis­sion, CHP has called on the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment to in­vest $17.6 mil­lion over four years to im­prove ed­u­ca­tion out­comes for kids with­out a home.

The four-year in­vest­ment would sup­port stu­dents to stay in school by ex­pand­ing an al­ready ex­ist­ing pro­gram called LOOK­OUT that is cur­rently only avail­able to kids in out-ofhome care.

If funded, the ex­panded LOOK­OUT pro­gram would see teams (in­clud­ing psy­chol­o­gists, learn­ing ad­vis­ers and a Koori con­sul­tant) placed in key re­gional and ur­ban lo­ca­tions.

The teams would tar­get kids ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness who are at risk of dis­en­gag­ing from school by sup­port­ing their fam­i­lies, as­sist­ing with school-

There are is­sues with hav­ing ac­cess to com­put­ers and tech­nol­ogy

ing costs and pro­vid­ing bet­ter sup­port to schools and teach­ers in re­la­tion to home­less stu­dents.

Rochester Sal­va­tion Army’s Ben Clap­ton said school­ing be­comes dif­fi­cult when a child’s fam­ily is home­less.

“Try­ing to find enough money to pay for books and uni­forms is much harder. Then there are is­sues with hav­ing ac­cess to com­put­ers and tech­nol­ogy,’’ he said.

‘‘We have a great re­la­tion­ship with the schools and sup­port ser­vices, who help us with spe­cific things.

‘‘We also have the thrift shop, which has some uni­forms.’’

Angli­care Echuca’s Maria Con­nor said there were lo­cal suc­cess sto­ries when it came to home­less fam­i­lies.

“It’s more com­plex when there are kids,” she said.

“But we had a fam­ily in Echuca who were fac­ing the loss of their house. When they first walked in, the kids were strug­gling at school and the par­ents thought the fam­ily would soon be home­less and sleep­ing in a car.

“Thank­fully by con­nect­ing with our work­ers, the fam­ily was able to find path­ways to avoid a fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

“Now their kids are hap­pily go­ing to school here and they’re still liv­ing in their house.

“It takes time, but we can help to see lives – like the lives of this fam­ily – turned around.”

’ — Ben Clap­ton

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