Number of homeless students drops in Seminole County
Updated On: Aug 07 2014 06:17:36 PM EDT
On Monday, Seminole County students head back to class, and this year the county has experienced a record drop in the number of homeless students.
“I had to sleep here and my other sister over there”, 16-year-old Kalese Justice told Local 6.
Just one year ago, Justice and her family called their minivan home.
“Living in the car at nights, I wouldn't want to sleep," Kalese said. "I couldn't sleep. There's not much room; we had a lot of stuff in that car.”
The teenager struggled as a student and at one point the situation was so bad that she even stopped going to school. Her mother, Sandy Justice, says her daughter just couldn't focus.
“Our main worry was where were we going bathe, where were we going use the bathroom," Justice said.
With the help of Families in Transition, a program within Seminole County Schools, the family was able to get back on its feet and move into a townhouse within eight months.
“It's been an amazing past few years. After the exposure with '60 Minutes,' our community jumped and came forward," FIT coordinator Beth Davalos said.
Davalos says that with the help of local businesses, faith-based organizations and government programs, Seminole County is finally seeing results.
In just the past year, Seminole County has had an 11.5 percent decrease in student homelessness. Davalos says it's the first time in seven years the county has seen a decrease.
Even though the final numbers for the 2013-2014 school year won't be available until October, Davalos says Seminole County Schools is just one of a handful of counties in Florida that has experienced a decrease.
“I hope I come back here a year from now saying we have another 11.5 percent decrease,” Davalos said.
She also hopes that these collaboration efforts will continue.
“Seminole County should be very proud and mirrored throughout the United States,” Justice said.
For more information on how you can help donate supplies, clothes and food to Families in Transition, visit www.seminolehomelesskids.org