Seminar to focus on homeless teens
Homeless students tend to struggle academically, performing worse on standardized tests than other low-income students, said Ann Forbeck, homeless education program coordinator at the Janesville School District.
Forbeck is organizing a tutoring program for these students, and she’s looking for volunteers.
The program mostly will work with elementary students, though some older students will participate, too.
People interested in being a “coach” to homeless students can call Forbeck at (608) 751-7779 or (608) 743-6490.
IF YOU GO
What: “Lunch and Learn” seminar about homeless teenagers, hosted by the Janesville League of Women Voters. Participants may bring bag lunches if they wish.
When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday. The room will open at 11:30, and the presentation will start at noon.
Where: United Way Community Room, 205 N. Main St., Janesville.
More information: This is the first of a three-part series on poverty. On Wednesday, March 18, Mark Fuller, member of the Rock County Homeless Intervention Task Force, will discuss the Rock County Homeless Count. On Wednesday, April 15, the principals of Jackson and Wilson elementary schools discuss poverty in their schools.
JANESVILLE “Tiffany” is in eighth grade, her family is chronically homeless, and she stays with her 17-year-old boyfriend.
“Jane” is 16 and a recovering drug addict. She feels she will relapse if she continues to live with her mother, who also is an addict. She stays on friends’ couches.
“Josh” is 17 and has serious mental health problems. His family couldn’t keep him at home because he refused treatment and the other children weren’t safe. He stays with friends and attends school sporadically.
Though the names and some revealing details are changed, these are real examples of homeless Janesville teens, said Ann Forbeck with the Janesville School District.
Forbeck, district homeless education program coordinator, will talk about teenage homelessness Wednesday at a bag-lunch seminar sponsored by the Janesville League of Women Voters.
“We do have teenagers who are runaways and homeless and don’t have any safe, stable place to live, and right now in our county we don’t have anyway to address these kids,” she said in an interview.
As of Monday, there were 233 homeless students in the Janesville district. At least 27 of them are “unaccompanied youth”: children (usually teens) not living in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.
But the problem is countywide, Forbeck said. She and other service providers have formed the Homeless Education Action Team with the goal of creating a homeless shelter for teens.
Minors can’t check into local homeless shelters. Many of them “couch surf,” moving around from friend to friend. Some end up living on the streets, Forbeck said.
The team wants to find a place where teens can stay until they find stable housing. They’ve identified the Hugunin House on Beloit Avenue, owned by the city of Janesville, as a possible location because it’s along a bus route, between Janesville and Beloit and not in a residential area where neighbors might be bothered, Forbeck said.
The League of Women Voters invited Forbeck to talk about the issue as the first of a three-part series on poverty. Future seminars will discuss the Rock County Homeless Count and children in poverty at Jackson and Wilson elementary schools.
“It’s just an issue that seems to be cropping up more and more,” said Marilyn Walterman, league vice president.
She said the loss of jobs at General Motors and other companies and the opening of a rotating men’s homeless shelter have made poverty visible in the community.
Education is one of the league’s goals, and it wants to make sure residents get the facts, President Kay Deupree said.
“You hear things about (poverty), but you feel like there needs to be a place where the community can hear what’s going on and not just word of mouth,” she said.