On Heard in Central Florida, you’ll hear a presentation by Beth D. Davalos on the issue of homeless students in Seminole County Florida public schools. Ms. Davalos is the staff liaison for a Seminole County school system project known as Families in Transition. Her address took place on Thursday, January 28, 2010, in front of a luncheon audience of League members and public attendees at Sergios Italian Restaurant in Sanford, Florida. After Ms. Davalos presentation, she responds to questions from the audience.
Feature Length — 44:21
Selected photos: GK Sharman
Beth D. Davalos
Presenter and Staff Liaison, Families in Transition
Seminole County Florida Public School System
After you launch the slideshow below, click “Next” and “Previous” to rotate through the photos.
Relevant Documents and External Links on Subjects Addressed by Beth D. Davalos
- 50 Ways to Help
- Families in Transition flyer
- Parent Resource Guide
- Beth Davalos’ slide presentation(15 pages, 6mb, PDF)
- Families in Transition – Seminole County Public Schools
- The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act
- The Rescue Outreach Mission of Sanford
- Central Florida area Community Coordinated Childcare
- Pathways to Home
- Seminole County Government Community Assistance
- Florida Department of Children and Families – Office on Homelessness
- Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness
- Homeless Services Network of Central Florida
- The Children’s Cabinet
- Boys Town of Central Florida
- Orlando Sentinel article – referenced in Q&A (boy living in a shed)
- Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida
- No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
- Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando (Kids Konnect program)
Panel Discussion Summary
At the January 28, 2010 “Hot Topics” luncheon for the League of Women Voters, Beth Davalos of the Seminole County Florida Public Schools was the guest presenter. Ms. Davalos, a school social worker, directs the program for homeless students called Families in Transition. This program provides services to homeless students attending Seminole County Public Schools.
In 2003 only 3 students were faced with concentrating on academic achievement while also facing the anxiety and embarrassment of homelessness. Today in Seminole County schools there are 904 such students and the number is rising. They come from all areas of the county, from every city. Each child must find some way to make it through the school year in a situation of insecurity and tension as their family struggles to find shelter.
In the current economic situation many families with school age children have lost their home and have struggled to find living facilities. Seventy six percent of these families end up in shared housing with all the attendant over-crowding and loss of privacy. The homeless shelter in Seminole county separates families by gender and has too few beds even then, but 9% of the students live there. Many other families live in temporary shelter in a single hotel room.
As a result, these homeless students are performing 1.7 grade levels below other students. Twenty-one percent of homeless children become homeless adults. Their social life is almost non-existent because they can’t bring friends “home.”
Ms. Davalos’ not only presented the disturbing statistics but described the action taken by the schools to provide the unique services that these children in need. The passage of the McKinney-Vento Act set federal requirements and guidelines to meet this crisis. Services provided by Families in Transition include:
- Continuation in their school of origin no matter where they moved to find shelter so they don’t have to disrupt their school environment. Transportation provided
- Free breakfast and lunch each day
- Some new clothing, backpacks and hygiene products.
- Counseling and tutoring to help with academics and behavior
- Coordinated assistance from community agencies at all levels of government.
- Pathways to Home, a pilot program to provide 30 case managers to serve 130 homeless families.
Many families are new to the economic crisis of homelessness and don’t know where to turn. Each year the school system sponsors a Families in Transition event at Winter Springs High school where 300 volunteers and social service agencies gather to provide information and services to 900 local families who find themselves homeless or in need.