Homeless Students in Peoria

After a long day at school, all you want to do is go home, get in your warm, cozy bed, and take a nap.

However, some students aren’t given this luxury.

According to the 2014 census, almost 32% of Peoria Public School students are from a poverty or low income family.

Peoria County’s high school graduation rate for these types of students is more than 12% below the state average.

Despite these statistics, homeless students are eager to do well in the classroom.

“They’re so excited to get on [the bus] because it just brings that sense of relief,” said Kristy Schofield, director of homeless and housing at the Dream Center. “It is something that is stable and keeps me going.”

According to the McKinney-Vento Act, schools must allow homeless children to enroll.

“The act ensures that even if they’re missing paper work, shot records, or birth certificates, they are not kept out of school,” said Schofield.

These students not only use school to relieve stress, but they also want to do well academically. The Dream Center helps students study and complete their homework on a daily basis.

“We do have an after school program that serves our clients as well,” said Schofield. “And they can go in there and can get tutoring and they get help with a lot of things.”

The after school programs provide an outlet for students. Music and dance classes are some of the programs provided. But when these students return to school the next day, they only want one thing -- respect.

“What these kids need is to be welcomed as any other student and treated as any other student,” said Schofield

Faculty and staff at the Peoria Public Schools are working hard to ensure homeless students have the best learning experience. But their parents are the ones giving students the most encouragement.

“Most people that are homeless do not want to be homeless,” said Schofield. “This is not how they want to live their life. And they want the best for their kids. They don’t want their kids to follow in their footsteps and have that kind of life.”

The average age of a homeless person in Peoria is 10.

The Dream Center has housed 60 children since the beginning of the 2016 school year.

Numerous other agencies also offer services to help homeless students in Peoria.


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