The number of homeless students in McDowell grew once again during the 2012-13 school year.

During a presentation on Title I and Title III funding at the August McDowell County Board of Education meeting, Director of Federal Grants Elaine Seals shared with the board how Title I funds were being used to help kids classified as homeless.

“We have previously set aside $35,000 from Title 1 funds to go with the $60,000 worth of funding we receive from McKinney-Vento for our homeless population,” said Seals. “This year we’ve added another position for more manpower, which means we’ve added another $30,000 from our Title 1 budget for an extra homeless worker to help our homeless population.”

Seals stated that an increase in McDowell’s homeless population over the last couple of years had caused Title 1 to look into the district’s spending reports.

“Our numbers are so big that we were questioned about them,” said Seals. “Right now we have 1,105 students that are considered homeless because they are doubled up or perhaps living in substandard homes.”

During the 2011-12 school year, McDowell had 933 kids classified as homeless and the year before that 847, meaning that numbers have steadily increased over the last three years.

Homeless doesn’t necessarily mean on the street.

Seals explained how a student becomes classified as homeless.

“The main question we have to ask is if they were pulled out of their current home and had to live without the doubled up situation, would they be able to survive financially,” said Seals

If the family couldn’t sustain adequate housing or a place to stay without living with another family or family member, they become classified as homeless. “We have to ask if they have a regular place they call home, and an adequate nighttime residence,” she said.

Seals said the additional homeless worker would partner with five other caseworkers to go out and determine what the individual needs of each homeless student are.

With the additional worker, McDowell County Schools will spend $125,000 this school year to ensure that homeless students have what they need. Funds to help homeless students come from Title 1 funding, which specifically designated for that purpose, and the McKiney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth Program Funds.