Remote learning for Charlotte kids without a permanent home

Helping students under the McKinney-Vento Act

Remote learning for Charlotte kids without a permanent home

Remote learning is very different for some of the most vulnerable children — those who don’t have a permanent home.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the journey for students, families and educators is having a much different impact on students who are less fortunate.

A partnership between The Prodigal Son Foundation and Northside Baptist Church has been set up to help these special kids who are living in extraordinary circumstances.

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“Not having a permanent home can already be traumatic for the children who experience it. School is the one constant in their lives,” said Veronica Washington, director of community outreach for Northside Baptist Church.

“We want to be a place of hope for these students because they are amazing.”

The COVID-19 crisis and the uncertainty and disruption it creates to these students’ educational plans only adds to the stressors on already vulnerable children and youth.

“Helping children thrive in light of so much uncertainty, especially children and youth who live in a hotel or on a family member’s floor, is critical work,” Washington said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges for our communities across the country, but this partnership is easing the burden for some students and families.

Under the McKinney-Vento Act, every local educational agency is required to designate a liaison for homeless children and youth, but the reality is that some of these kids get lost in the system.

The Prodigal Son Foundation has set up a learning center at the expansive facilities at Northside Baptist Church. The students in the program get academic enrichment and helps students build confidence and self-management skills through enrichment opportunities to complement the students’ regular academic program.

“These students will be left behind if they’re not given support. We’re not just providing academic support.  We’re taking care of their mental health needs, nutrition, physical fitness,” said Leroy Wray, executive director of Prodigal Son Foundation.

For these students, this school building isn’t just a place where they learn. It’s a place of stability for students who crave predictable schedules and healthy relationships with peers and trusted adults.

“We want to empower and engage these students and their families.  We want to make sure we close the gap for these students who aren’t getting an education,” Wray said.

“After we leave COVID-19, we hope to continue to grow these students and families to be successful,” he said.

Students who fall under the McKinney-Vento Act in Charlotte can email LearningLab@NorthsideCharlotte.com for registration information.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.