Council Member Rita Joseph,

NEWS: NYC Council pushes for school staff in homeless shelters

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The New York City Council is calling on the Department of Education to hire 150 staffers to work in homeless shelters and help students living in them get to school.

“While the City must tackle the housing crisis so that no child becomes homeless, it also has an immediate responsibility to ensure that students already living in shelter can get to school every day and have the support needed to succeed and graduate,” Council Member Rita Joseph wrote in a Tuesday letter addressed to Schools Chancellor David Banks and obtained by The Post.

Joseph, who heads the City Council Committee on Education, was among more than 20 council members who signed onto the letter.

The push for DOE staffers in homeless shelters comes after 30 organizations sent a memo to the Adams administration last week, ahead of a deadline to submit plans to the state for $33 million in federal funds earmarked for homeless students by the end of May.

More than 100,000 public school students were homeless last school year — including a third that lived in New York City shelters.

More than half of students living in shelters miss at least one out of every 10 school days, according to data cited by Advocates for Children.

Council Member Rita Joseph wants to provide more resources for homeless students.
Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post

Council members and advocates said the requested staffers can work to figure out why a child may be absent from school, and address the problem in real time.

If the bus isn’t coming, the staff could work with the DOE’s Office of Pupil Transportation to resolve the problem,” the advocates wrote in the memo to City Hall.

“If the child doesn’t have clean clothing to wear to school, the staff could connect the family to laundry services; if the parent is unable to get a child to the bus because of competing job and childcare responsibilities, the staff could help figure out a plan.”

Education officials reported that the DOE employs 117 shelter-based family assistants, who help families entering the shelter system with enrollment, transportation and attendance.

New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks
New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks speaks at a press conference on March 2, 2022.
Stefan Jeremiah

But council members said shelters “do not currently have sufficient staff focused on education,” citing low retention rates among staffers who typically are paid $28,000 and do not work summers.

The DOE committed in February to adding 50 community coordinators in shelters, but advocates said they were still waiting for those job descriptions to be posted.

“We would like to see the DOE begin hiring right away,” said Randi Levine of Advocates for Children.

Department officials did not return a request for comment on the status of that hiring process.

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