TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — It’s estimated that as many as 1,000 Shawnee County students are homeless.
Now, school, city and businesses leaders in Topeka are stepping in to bring that number down.
The city is implementing a program called Impact Avenues. It’s aimed at helping students in need and their families get back on their feet.
Through Impact Avenues, the city is hoping to reduce the number of homeless students and increase their success in the classroom.
“Homelessness is going to affect achievement in all kinds of areas of the child’s life,” said Division Director of Housing Services for the City of Topeka Corrie Wright. “We felt that we need to address that. So, while we’re working with kiddo and the family, we’ll also be working with the parents.”
The program will make it more convenient for students and their families to get the help they need.
Kasandra Rumple is an elementary school teacher at Jardine Elementary. She knows just how much of a differnce a program like this can make in a student’s life.
“We can’t teach a student who hasn’t had their basic needs met,” said Rumple. “So, we as teachers spend a lot of time making sure that we get those basic needs met so that the kids can be successful in our classrooms.”
But, teachers can’t do it all by themselves. That’s why city, business and school leaders are coming together to get the program started.
To qualify for the program, students don’t have to be living on the streets, but must lack a stable home and must be referred through a USD 501 liaison.
“We’re going to be looking at all issues, not just housing,” said Wright. “We want to make sure that their credit repair, you know, financing, budgeting. We want to hit all of those things and kind of do wrap around services.”
From there, a program navigator will arrange days for families to work with different agencies to address their needs and help get them back on track.
There are several groups involved in the project. One of them being Advisors Excel who committed up to $500,000 over the next three years to support the program.
Other partners include USD 501, the Kansas Department of Children and Families, Topeka Rescue Mission, Housing and Credit Counseling Inc., and Valeo Behavioral Health Care.
The program will begin at the end of September. For more information about Impact Avenues, click HERE.