by Victor Lopez
It's a problem that's getting harder to deal with and avoid, homeless children.
A Texas organization was in the Basin on Monday to give law enforcement the right tools to help them respond to and fight it.
There are different definitions for homeless. In this case, we're talking about someone who does not have an adequate, regular, night-time residence.
In Midland and Ector counties alone, there are over 1,300 school aged kids who fit that category.
The Texas Homeless Network started their law enforcement training this past spring. Their goal is to provide resources and tools to law enforcement officers, who are routinely sent to respond to calls of a homeless person doing something in public that most people would prefer they do in private.
Often these officers don't have the right training to respond productively. The calls usually end in an arrest.
The Texas Homeless Network calls this, a cycle of response based on punishment, one that's not addressing the cause or providing services to prevent homelessness.
According to Patricia Julianelle, with the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, who teaches the class, "I think we can solve homelessness, but I don't think police officers can solve homelessness. I think law enforcement wants the support, wants the strategies and in my experience have been really open to getting the information and thinking about how they can use it in their communities."
The training offers models that other service providers and law enforcement in other communities use to work together to provide alternatives for service, giving the homeless a safe place to go and stay and if needed, provide help with addiction or mental health problems too.
The Texas Homeless Network has also presented their training class in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, McAllen and Brownsville.