Charlotte-Mecklenburg students who come from low income families have different challenges than many of their classmates. Food, clothing, and shelter are among some of the basic needs that more students in CMS need help getting.

Charlotte, NC — 

“The number of homeless children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is at an all time high,” says Annabelle Suddreth, Executive Director of A Child’s Place.

“We have stories of kids who–there’s no paper in the house, there are no pens or pencils in the house. They end up doing their homework on their arm,” adds Janice Booth of Classroom Central.

With over 4,700 homeless children in CMS, the privately funded organization A Child’s Place works to provide educational and emotional support for mainly working poor families.

“Homelessness affects children in every aspect of their life. They’re hungry, they’re more likely to be sick, they’re falling behind in grade level. They’re worried about things, about their family and that bad things are going to happen to them,” says Suddreth.

Communities in Schools works inside 44 high poverty schools to make sure students most at risk of dropping out get the resources they need to be successful.

“We see the need growing every day and we’re trying to respond as quickly as we can to get the most kids help. About three years ago we were working with roughly 4,000 kids and we’re close to 7,000 this year,” says Communities in Schools Executive Director Molly Shaw.

Budget cuts mean CMS is no longer able to provide funding to Classroom Central, a non-profit that allows teachers to get needed supplies to students in high poverty schools.

CMS interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh says organizations like Communities In Schools, A Child’s Place and Classroom Central are key to improving test scores and graduation rates, and more importantly, lowering dropout rates.

“They have an impact. Kids attendance has increased, academic achievement has increased, kids graduation rates increase when they are involved and they get that personalized attention and they know they have an adult that’s concerned about them, checks up on them.”

CMS has made recent strides in overall achievement and in closing achievement gaps but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“This is a community that has a history of really banding together and really caring about its kids and we’re going to need that now more than ever. we’ve gotta have corporations, foundations, individuals, the faith community. Everyone has got to really take a stake in the success of all kids in Charlotte-Mecklenburg,” says Shaw.

If Charlotte can be active and innovative our schools can undergo a successful reboot and become a model for others.

Fox Charlotte

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