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TUSD reworks policy to redefine homeless and foster care students

Posted at 10:05 AM, Feb 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-14 12:07:25-05

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Tucson Unified is reworking it's policies because of a change in federal law.

The district is redefining homeless and foster kids in the system and what benefits they receive.

There are about 5,600 homeless students in Pima County.

1,200 of those are enrolled in TUSD.

The district voted Tuesday night to move proposed policies forward.

Now they're asking the public to weigh in on how it is handling homeless and foster care students.

Benthany Neumann with Youth On Their Own or YOTO says homeless students face many challenges.

“How are they going to get to school? How are they going to find food if they’re in school all day and nobody is taking care of them?” said Newmann.

She adds that many homeless students never get their diploma, which is where YOTO comes into plan. Youth On Their Own is a dropout prevention organization that helps homeless youth in Pima County graduate.

“Students oftentimes drop out because there are other things they need to take care of during the hours that school might take place,” Neumann added.

Things like housing, transportation, food, and clothing.

The policy change TUSD has made, will now redefine who is homeless.

Board-member Rachael Sedgwick says this will help reallocate funds to students who may need it the most.

“We’ve just separated now that there is an official difference between homeless students and students in foster care or who are headed toward foster care. And so I think they actually remove those students from the protection of the Mckinney Vento Act. However the benefit is that all of the students who are truly homeless or on their own will receive these benefits,” said Sedgwick.

She says the district has also reworked its policy so that all of the foster care students will get the care they need.

TUSD has made these changes to be in compliance with federal law and not lose funding.

Now, Sedgwick says it’s time to wait and see how the changes work for the next two months.

“...and then the matter will come back to the board and we will vote again and consider any comment made by the public in that period,” Sedgwick told KGUN9.

For more information on how you can get involved, click here.