WACO, Texas – The Cove is a safe haven for teens battling homelessness in Waco – and with schools starting online this month, they are helping students get re-acclimated.
Executive Director Kelly Atkinson says they are providing some key resources to kids who might not have access otherwise.
“Students will be able to come to The Cove, and they’ll have access to WiFi and use their computers or access a computer,” Atkinson said. “They’ll be able to access their course work. We will even have tutors on site so that students who are having trouble with a problem can talk to someone here.”
On top of helping teens with shower facilities, laundry rooms and a kitchen, their main goal now is to keep students in school.
“Our main focus is to help students register for school,” Atkinson said. “A lot of the young people that we serve may not have gone through the process of registering with their local district.”
Atkinson says the homeless student population in the city is bigger than most people might expect. She estimates about ten percent of students receiving free or reduced lunch in a school district will experience homelessness.
“Waco ISD, for instance, I think it’s been around 88 percent of the student population has been on free and reduced lunch,” Atkinson said. “So if you take ten percent of this group, it’s still a very high number.”
Even since the City of Waco announced August 20th as “Youth Homelessness Awareness Day,” The Cove is finding it hard to get help for students without school in session.
“Even if we’ve had a hard time reaching them in the last six months, or even if they don’t all register this fall, we know they’re out there,” Atkinson said. “If they know there’s a safe place like The Cove, maybe they’ll come to us.”
The Cove will be resuming their normal hours five days a week on September 8.