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Both sides of the 100 Neediest

Marquisha Robinson, left, her daughter Marrionna Robinson, 2, say goodbye to Tabitha Luczak with the Stronger Beginnings for Families, Children?s Home & Aid program, as Luczak leaves the family's East St. Louis home after a visit on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. During the visit Luczak to provided resources, advice and educational activities like books and puzzles for the family. Four years ago Luczak and her newborn were clients of Stronger Beginnings. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

Regarding “100 Neediest Cases: One caseworker has been on both sides of the program that helps thousands each holiday season” (Nov. 18): I appreciate the Post-Dispatch’s recognition of children experiencing homelessness. During the 2016-2017 school year, there were over 32,100 children experiencing homelessness in Missouri public schools. That is one out of every 27 children (about one child in every classroom). These children deserve the right to education and a safe place to call home. I think that Missourians would agree with me.

However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is not adequately meeting many of these students’ needs. The department is only counting some of these children as homeless, and therefore, only some are able to access housing to stabilize their education. In order to help the children who are homeless in our state, we must advocate for HUD to use the homelessness definition used by the U.S. Department of Education. Once they are adequately counting the number of children experiencing homelessness in the U.S., they must increase funding to meet their educational needs through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. This way, all the children living without safe and stable housing will be able to obtain the education necessary for a brighter future.

Natalie Rapp • University City