LANSING, Mich. — The organizers of a Lansing School District program that works to make sure homeless kids have what they need to succeed in school say the pandemic is bringing in families who have never needed help before.
Kassandrah Williams is caring for eight kids. Recently, she ran into a rough patch.
“We found ourselves going through some challenges. Home changes. We were really in need of the help," said Williams.
Williams is not alone.
On average the Lansing School district’s Families Overcoming Rough Times, or FORT, program helps over 500 students each year.
“On a typical school year we will identify about 600 homeless students within the district and about 1100 county-wide," said FORT coordinator, Rose Taphouse.
She says the face of who needs help is changing.
“We’re seeing a different need. We’re starting to see some families that are unstable with their housing for the first time," Taphouse said.
Taphouse used to work as a truancy officer and saw firsthand how homelessness impacts students.
“Our homeless students that are experiencing this homeless situation are exposed to four times the trauma of their peers. We know what trauma can do to our kids. How it can impact their attendance, their behavior and academics," said Taphouse.
Taphouse says there are many ways families in need can tap into the services the program provides.
Williams says someone from the program called her and offered to help.
“Schools supplies, housing, transportation. You name it. Whatever my needs were, they got met," said a grateful Williams.
The goal of the program is to remove the barriers and challenges that make it hard to be successful in school.
Williams says she’s thankful for the help and encourages anyone in need to reach out to FORT.
“I would suggest if other families needed it, they can turn to the Lansing School District as well," Williams said.
Williams says her family is in transitional housing right now, but FORT is working to get them into permanent housing.
You can learn more about the FORT Program
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