The Anatomy Of A Movement – Educating Homeless Children

In October of 2010, Nathan Hand, who at that time was the Vice President of Development of School on Wheels in Indiana posted a blog with the National Alliance to End Homelessness. In this article, Educating Homeless Children, Nathan examines the anatomy of a movement. He points out the people recognized a need and had the courage to address that need. As Nathan pointed out “Homeless children are possibly the most vulnerable population in our country.”

The Massachusetts Department of Education estimates there are as many as 50,000 homeless children enrolled in public schools around our state. This number is growing as this state’s homeless family population continues to rise. The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless reports that the average age of a homeless person is eight years old.

Nathan continues, “If we don’t give homeless kids access to education, they’ll be right where their parents are in a few short years – maybe with kids of their own.” Nathan points to movements started by Agnes Stevens, who piloted School on Wheels, Inc. in Southern California, Sally Bindley who founded School on Wheels Corp. in Indiana, and our own, Cheryl Opper who also recognized the need for academic resources for local students impacted by homelessness and founded School on Wheels of Massachusetts.

“Three different women, three different cities, three similar models.” The models are similar but not identical. This movement recognizes that the same program would not work for every child in every city and strives to identify the programs that are most effective to adjust them to fit the specific needs of specific communities. As Nathan points out, these organizations are moving the movement forward. They continue to identify successful programs, partnering with other area advocacy groups, recruiting talented volunteers and building their own, specific models. School on Wheels – all of them – are moving the movement forward.