Proposal: Allow homeless kids to shower at school

Proposal: Allow homeless kids to shower at school
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A nonprofit is proposing that homeless middle and high school kids be allowed to shower at school before heading to class.

The state isn't shooting the idea down, but says it would require careful consideration.

Some 2,220 public school students are homeless. While most live in homeless shelters, many live on the streets or couch surf.

Carolyn Golojuch, of nonprofit Rainbow Family 808, says allowing homeless children in middle and high school to shower on campus would be a small, but powerful step toward helping those kids succeed.

"The kids can take a shower and they'll be presentable in school and they can hold their head up high," she said.

Golojuch school showers would bolster self-esteem, and might improve their grades.

She said schools could easily allow students to wash up in gym facilities or other on-campus showers. "I want people to look at some of their facilities that we have already in place and just utilize them," she said.

State Department of Education spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said some some principals have made accommodations for homeless students to shower on campus, but it's a confidential matter.

"Principals decide the use of their facilities based on resources, safety and privacy," she said.

McKinley High School principal Ron Okamura doesn't oppose the idea, but said a program like that would require strict oversight.

"You want to make sure that there is DOE personnel there to supervise and monitor," he said. "Who is going to make sure the kids are going to be safe in there?"

Okumura said another consideration is cost.

"There is always a cost factor to doing something like this -- electricity, water, sewage or even hiring personnel," he said.

Those details aren't worked out, but Golojuch is certain they can be. And she wants the DOE to create a blanket policy to allow on-campus showers for homeless kids.

Her non-profit has pledged to supply soap, shampoo, and towels.

"It doesn't fix everything. But for that moment it fixes those students that need to have a shower," Golojuch said.

She said DOE could open a half hour earlier for showers. "If we don't want them to live out their life in the cycle of poverty, then we have to do whatever we can," she said.

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