The United Way of Treasure Valley says the number of homeless students is rising. There is a program new to our area, called "Community School," that aims to help those impacted.
In the Treasure Valley 4,000 students are considered homeless. Dozens of them go to school at Sacajawea Elementary in Caldwell. A student is considered homeless if they don't have a permanent place to live.
"If you don't know where you're going to be sleeping that's a stressor," said Paul Webster, who is the principal at Sacajawea. "It has become kinda normal because so many people end up being doubled up."
Webster says several students also live in campers or in shelters.
The United Way of Treasure Valley has placed Hortensia Hernandez in Sacajawea as part of a "Community School" initiative. The school was identified by the nonprofit as high need.
"I spend a lot of time getting to know and meet families and getting to know what their needs are, what barriers exist in their lives," said Hernandez.
Those barriers can be health, academics, necessities, transportation and child care. Under the "Community School" Hernandez coordinates and brings in resources to meet needs.
Although this is just the first school year for the "Community School" program at the school, Webster says he knows it's going to make a big difference.
"Watching out for those families to make sure they have what they need," said Webster.
Other districts in the area have launched similar programs. The one at Sacajawea is the only one funded by Untied Way of Treasure Valley. Salt Lake City is the closest city to us that has a fully developed program where every school has a "Community School" to help homeless students.