NYC council lobbies for school staff at homeless shelters

The New York City Council is asking the Department of Education to hire 150 staff members to work at homeless shelters and help students who live there get to school.

“While the City must tackle the housing crisis so that no child becomes homeless, it also has an immediate responsibility to ensure that students already living in shelters can get to school every days and have the support they need to succeed and graduate,” said board member Rita. Joseph wrote in a letter to Schools Chancellor David Banks on Tuesday and obtained by The Post.

Joseph, who heads the city council’s committee on education, was among more than 20 council members who signed the letter.

The push for DOE workers at homeless shelters comes after 30 organizations sent a memo to the Adams administration last week ahead of a deadline to submit plans to the state for $33 million worth of federal funds for homeless students by the end of May.

More than 100,000 public school students were homeless last year, including a third who lived in shelters in New York.

More than half of students living in shelters miss at least one in 10 school days, according to data cited by Advocates for Children.

Board member Rita Joseph wants to provide more resources for homeless students.
Stefan Jeremiah for the New York Post

Council members and advocates said requested staff members can work to understand why a child may be absent from school and resolve the issue in real time.

“If the bus does not come, staff may work with the DOE Office of Student Transportation to resolve the issue,” the advocates wrote in the memo to town hall.

“If the child doesn’t have clean clothes to wear to school, the staff could put the family in touch with laundry services; If the parent is unable to bring a child to the bus due to competing work and childcare responsibilities, staff could help develop a plan.

Education officials said the DOE employs 117 shelter caregivers, who assist families entering the shelter system with registration, transportation and attendance.

New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks
New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks speaks during a press conference on March 2, 2022.
Stefan Jeremiah

But board members said shelters ‘currently don’t have enough education-focused staff,’ citing low retention rates among staff who are typically paid $28,000 and don’t work summers. .

The DOE pledged in February to add 50 community coordinators at shelters, but advocates said they were still waiting for those job descriptions to be released.

“We would like to see the DOE start hiring immediately,” said Randi Levine of Advocates for Children.

Department officials did not return a request for comment on the status of that hiring process.

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