Concern About Educating Homeless Keiki

Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland
Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland

There are more than 900 homeless children in Hawaii, and being shuffled around from beachsites to shelters has made it difficult for many to get an education.

Lawmakers are talking about solutions to this problem. To give children an education no matter where they live.

The American Civil Liberties Union and two other parties representing several homeless leeward families filed a class action against the state of Hawaii this week.

Attorneys complain the State Department of Education fails to provide homeless children with equal access to public education.

Homeless families living in Aala park may find it tough to get their kids to school everyday.

It's not like a school bus rolls up to the park every morning and afternoon.

This problem is faced by families living along Oahu's leeward coast and in homeless shelters.

Senator Suzanne CHun Oakland is aware of the problem, "Keiki Caucus which I am co-convener of has raised it as an issue and we actually have been putting resources into various areas with regard to education though we can certainly look into that."

The federal government gives the state 200-thousand dollars to provide homeless children with a free education. But the state may need to spend more.

"I do know that DOE does dedicate one person and with the increase in folks that are homeless and children in particular I do think we need to support the department if they make that kind of request, says Chun Oakland.

Some homeless kids were not allowed to enroll in leeward schools because they didn't have a permanent address. Others complain they don't have money for bus fare.

"I think we need to look at additional resources or to partner with community folks because there is a strong network of advocates that can help but with regard to DOE resources certainly we can look at that, " realizes Chun Oakland.

State lawmakers are looking for creative solutions, "I know the teachers are doing as much as they can to support the children even though they may not have a physical home and that's why I know some of the elementary schools for example have after school kinds of care even evening kinds of programs to actually help children as much as possible ."