Homeless students: Leveling the playing field - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Homeless students: Leveling the playing field

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 RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- The school year may be quickly approaching, but not all students in Rapides Parish have the supplies they need. Nearly 500 children attending school are considered homeless, but there are community organizations looking to lend a helping hand. 

Out of 23 thousand students in Rapides Parish, 458 of them lack a stable home environment. News Channel 5's Noelle Bellow was curious about what the school board is doing to help give them the resources they need. 

Homeless Liaison for the school board, Melinda Bordelon said, "there could be other students in the Parish that we don’t know about, and that’s my job, to go out into these schools and make sure the faculty members are educated on homeless students and what to look for. These students sometimes won’t come to school, they don’t want people to know they're homeless".

To ensure a productive school year for all students, the Rapides Parish School Board has set up programs for those that qualify.

"They're really just in need of support. We also provide after school tutoring for those students, and sometimes we even accommodate them with transportation to their school of origin if they want to stay in their same location," said Bordelon. 

In an effort to help the homeless students, in the Parish, local organizations like The Shepherd Center, are holding school supply drives.

Director Jim Elders said, "something as small as not having, what we would think is small –  the right notebook, the right assigned supplies for their grade level, it makes them feel set apart".

Starting August 1st, Families can come to the Shelter to pick up donated supplies.

"Sometimes the something that’s stable is to be able to have that backpack that has the correct supplies in it so when they open it up in front of their peers, they're not embarrassed," said Elders. 

Bordelon hopes this school year will give all students an equal opportunity to learn and grow. "I wanted to be an advocate for students that are homeless so they could have an even playing field like the students that have homes".

Those looking to qualify for homeless help from the school district, need to visit the Rapides Parish School Board office and pick up an application. They will review your situation and make a decision based on a number of qualifications. 

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