As Illinois children head back to school, some of those students won’t know where they’ll be staying once the dismissal bell rings. The State Board of Education estimates that 40 thousand students are homeless in Illinois. While the state already has policies in place to accommodate these children-such as waiving certain residency requirements-advocates like Faith Sanderson of Sangamon County Regional Office of Education says there’s only so much that can be done when many more homeless students haven’t informed their schools about their living situations.
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“Youth that are on their own, they want to stay under the radar, they don’t want to have services introduced,” Sanderson said. Those services include waiving certain fees and enrollment in free breakfast and lunch services. Sanderson says teachers can play a crucial role by understanding the needs of homeless students, and allowing them extra time to complete assignments.