By Michael Sudhalter
Few Fort Bend County residents know that there were more than 1,000 homeless students in the County as of last year.
Homelessness is an often invisible problem, and the official numbers of 2013-14 indicate that there were 1,024 homeless students combined between the County’s four public school districts – Fort Bend ISD (727), Lamar CISD (217), Stafford MSD (75) and Needville ISD (5).
The 1,024 number may be lower than it should be because some families and students are reluctant to report that they’re homeless, said Robin Mallett, a board member with Fort Bend Family Promise, a non-profit that assists homeless families in the County.
It also doesn’t come close to showing the number of families who may be on the brink of homelessness, or account for students not enrolled in the public school system.
in 2015-16, Fort Bend ISD has identified 476 students who are classified as homeless by the McKinney-Vento Act, a federal law that provides federal money for homeless shelter programs.
“Each campus has a counselor that works with the McKinney Vento population,” said Amanda Bubela, spokesperson for FBISD. “Social Workers support the counselors and often work with the child specific administrator on the campus. We work to maintain confidentiality and we do not segregate the McKinney Vento population based on their homeless status. For us it is important that their homeless condition does not define the child.”
FBISD looks at student needs and addresses them on a case-by-case basis “and works as a team to remove barriers to provide the student with a stable, safe and nurturing school learning environment.”
FBISD also provides transportation, school supplies, uniforms (as needed), free breakfast and lunch, academic intervention, and student advocacy to students who fit into the McKinney Vento Homeless category.
Sugar Land resident Eva Fackeldey started the Cinderella Cinderfella Project Inc., which gives homeless students in FBISD the resources to attend their Senior Prom.
In addition to providing excellent clothes and transportation, the students receive mentorship that continues after they graduate from high school.
The non-profit has produced hundreds of success stories over the years.