by Victor Lopez
ODESSA-- Student Assistance Services (SAS) at ECISD is committed to making sure every child that's enrolled in the district gets the same treatment. Wayne Wallace is the lead councelor at SAS. He explained how they go about determining who needs their help, "We're designed, purely, to help kids be successful in school. At the beginning of the year, during registration, we send out a homeless questionaire to every student in the district. If they're qualifed as homeless, then we can provide for their needs."
Being homeless can be anything from living in a motel, with friends, or even in a shelter or out of your car. According to the McKinney-Vento Act, no child can be descriminated against when it comes to an a education.
"That law was passed to make sure that homeless students have every opportunity to be successful in school as every other student," Wallace explained.
From the individual uniforms each campus requires, to notebooks, paper, crayons, even something to put them in, Student Assistance Services wants to make sure every child in ECISD gets their fair share at a quality education.
Rita Abila is the Homeless Liason for SAS. With donations from stores like Wal-Mart and local churches, she helps students pick out the things they want, "I believe that when a child feels good about what they're wearing, they'll put out a little more effort. They're going to feel equal to all the other kids and that's what we're striving for. For them to feel the same, that barrier will be removed from them in school."
Wallace added, the help they provide comes in more than just clothes and school supplies, "We have a homeless fund, that comes from Title I monies, that we have money available to buy clothing, shoes, glasses, and minor medical things to help homeless students and their families."
SAS may not be able to help everyone who applies, but they can at least point them in the right direction.
"Our social workers are experts in community resources. They'll hook them up with Catholic Charities or other people that provide resources."