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Jennings, Mo., School District to Open Foster Home for Homeless Students

The Jennings, Mo., school district, which borders Ferguson, is partnering with a local agency to open a foster home for some of its homeless students.

The foster home, Hope House, is a partnership with the Missouri Baptist Children's Home, and will serve up to 10 students, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The new initiative will allow some students in foster care to stay in the same school district and continue to attend schools with teachers and students they know, according to the paper. Jennings has about 200 homeless students.

A similar program is in place in another St. Louis-area school district, the Maplewood Richmond Heights schools, the paper said.

Tiffany Anderson, who has been Jennings' superintendent since 2012, has made educating children in poverty her mission. She was honored last year as one of Education Week's Leaders to Learn From for her community-engagement work in Jennings.

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In interviews with Education Week over the last year, Anderson has said that she believes that schools and communities are inextricably connected and that schools cannot educate children in poverty to their highest academic potential without including the community and also taking into account those children's out-of-school needs.

Since joining the district, Anderson has worked with the St. Louis Area Food Bank to open a food pantry, had washer and dryers put into schools, and worked with another area nonprofit to set up a boutique at one of the schools where students can get things like coats and socks.

"What we're doing here is trying to create stability for kids and for families," she told the paper about the district's most recent project.

Anderson said the house is a community effort. Students helped with decorating. The St. Louis Regional Business Council donated about  $10,000. Local businesses gave financial donations, in-kind support, and labor, the paper reported.

The school board gave about $50,000 to help renovate the house that once served as a district office and will now be used as the foster home.

Virginia Robinson, a secretary who worked for the district for 30 years and has raised foster children for 10 years, will run the house. Robinson will live there with her 12-year-old son, the paper reported.

The foster students' cases will be handled by a foster care management team from the Missouri Baptist Children's Home, which will also provide counseling services to the children, according to the paper. 

Image Source: The Jennings School District 

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