Irving has a population of high school homeless students. They have no permanent residence—they sleep in cars, at friend’s homes until they wear out their welcome, in motels when they have money—they shower at the school gym. Some have neither parents nor family. Others have been kicked out of their homes. Some have attitudes. They all have determination. They all deserve an education and they are trying to get one—against all odds.
In 2004 when we found out that there were over 100 homeless teens in our town with no parental support, we wanted to be their advocate. IWN provides clothing, toiletries, makeup, graduation essentials, and other needed items to this precarious population.
Homeless children are entitled to the protections of the McKinney-Vento Act. The Act defines homeless children as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”
Examples of children who fall under this definition according to The Act:
Children sharing housing due to economic hardship or loss of housing • Children living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations • Children living in emergency or transitional shelters • Children awaiting foster care placement • Children whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g. park benches, etc) • Children living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, etc.
Only 1 in 4 homeless teenagers graduates from high school. Over twenty percent of girls become pregnant. One third of homeless children are forced into sexual exploitation within 48 hours.