CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - We are taking a deeper look tonight inside of the homeless community and the children who are living on the streets.
Savannah-Chatham Public Schools are a week into the school year, but some kids went back to school with nowhere to live, or just aren't in school at all. SCCPSS tells us the following statistics are just the ones they "know" are experiencing homelessness - so there could be more children that we don't even know about.
Last week was full of big smiles, new clothes and shoes, and backpacks full of supplies. What we didn't see or notice was the handful of children who don't have homes, don't have new and clean clothes, or just simply didn't make it to school because of unforeseen circumstances.
"We have homeless children in every single school in our district. Our kids are sitting next to them. They are friends with them," said Julie Wade, Park Place Outreach.
Unfortunately, the number of homeless children in Chatham County is at a steady increase right now. SCCPSS says with kids from Pre-k -12th grad, the number of homeless kids increased from 768 during 2016-2017 to 1,001 during 2017-2018.
"A lot of our kids are coming from traumatic situations and they don't even realize the trauma that they are living," Wade said.
While some kids are just simply born into poverty and low-income families, juvenile crime is also how some children end up in shelters or on the streets.
"We had a facilitator from the mediation center who was working with the kids and asked them if they had experienced trauma and they said no, and then they asked, 'have you or any family member been a victim of gun violence,' and nearly every hand in the room went up," Wade said.
There are about 1,000 homeless kids who are accounted for according to SCCPSS, but unfortunately, there are only two resources in Chatham County for only some of those kids.
"We're trying to get kids to see another way to live and another life."
SCCPSS says they provide aid such as transportation to and from school, tutoring, school supplies, and other educational assistance, while also sticking to their goal of providing educational stability.
"They may not have a place to go home to at night or they may be sleeping in different places every night. There's a lot of kids in school with your kids who need support," Wade said.
Wade says once these kids leave the shelters, they make sure they are going to a stable environment and they check in on them every month.