What We Do
From our experiences in working with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) and consulting with education experts working on the problems that homeless students face, CapCityKids has identified three critical hurdles:
GRADE LEVEL SKILLS
Families in crisis frequently move from school to school and even district to district. In fact, more than 40% of these kids are likely to attend two or more different schools in the course of the year. In addition to the basic stress of such instability and change, the vagaries of differing levels of acceptance and program flexibility in different environments, and differing and often contradictory curriculum and program objectives often conspire to make it difficult for students to keep pace with their peers.
For homeless children, clothes, supplies, classroom fees and miscellaneous expenses become extraordinary burdens. Without these basic needs, the social pressures alone can make the classroom situation untenable for even the most resilient students.
Basic transportation to and from school is a challenge for homeless families. After school activities such as clubs, tutoring, and appointments with counselors are simply not options for families whose most urgent priorities are finding a safe place to sleep and a meal for the day.
In addition to transportation, school supplies and other support services, this budget provides grants to AISD for pilot programs aimed at discovering and implementing effective practices and procedures to minimize these hurdles.
Here is an overview of the programs CapCityKids supports:
CapCityKids funds a math specialist at Mathews Elementary to work with their homeless population and other at-risk students who are struggling academically. CapCityKids started working with Mathews Elementary in the 2006 – 2007 school year. Mathews has earned an Exemplary rating from the Texas Education Agency due to substantial increases in math scores by these students.
Families in crisis frequently move from school to school and even district to district. In fact, more than 40% of these kids are likely to attend two or more different schools in the course of the year. CapCityKids employs a full time Licensed Clinical Social Worker to lead a team of 8-10 Master level interns and place them in schools where there is a high need. These interns provide weekly support to homeless and at-risk students who are dealing with issues such as grief/loss due to a death of a loved one, difficulty transitioning school levels, and stress management. They provide group and individual counseling where they provide guidance and encouragement for students to develop problem solving skills and leadership capacity.
CapCityKids responds to requests from AISD’s Project Help for funding and/or resources to support some everyday living costs and services for homeless and at risk students. Some examples of the programs/materials that these requests have covered are:
- CapMetro bus passes for about 300 students a year
- Gift cards for school uniforms, necessary toiletries, and school activity fees
- Backpacks fully stocked with quality school supplies
- Nutrition education and other life skills assistance
- Summer school tuition and summer educational activities
- Participation fees and equipment for extracurricular art, music and sports programming
CapCityKids hosts an event in the summer that provides homeless students and their families with the opportunity to connect with resources in the community. Vendors in the past have included Goodwill, Austin Community College, Workforce Solutions, Mis Cuentas, The Austin Library, and The Children’s Health Express. Students also receive backpacks filled with school supplies, haircut vouchers, and lunch is provided. A photo booth, face painter, and balloon twister are also on site to make their experience enjoyable.