New Hope For Homeless Children

Land of Plenty

America often referred to as the “Land of Plenty” today boasts plenty of Homeless people, something most consider a “shame that it happens.”

How much more shame is there in the fact many homeless are total innocents, children. Yet only one community has stepped up to the plate to remedy such horror.

As this very real crisis continues to balloon homeless children numbers in one country are currently more than 15,870 according to San Diego School Districts. So where’s the ‘Hope’, one must wonder. Today it lies in the only Homeless Children’s school in our nation, Monarch.

How It Came To Be?

That seems to depends on who you ask. Legend has it that this began with two people meeting under a bridge to teach homeless kids to read. As for its namesake, it’s been said “Monarch School” was named after the butterfly which visits, then leaves often returning with more of its own kind.

Monarch School

Monarch students live in shelters, motels, single room occupancy housing, double- or tripled-up with other families in small apartments, in cars, camp sites, or on the streets. They’ve often been absent from any school, children able to achieve only well below grade level when enrolled.

Is Monarch a ‘real’ deal’ school?

Yes. Although San Diego Unfed sanctioned it as such it is neither a Charter School nor a member of District Unified Schools. A sort of hybrid, allowed to function under Juvenile department jurisdiction, Monarch is highly successful in educating students, thus its qualified students are legitimate graduates.

Monarch removes barriers typically encountered by homeless students, providing programs and services not offered at traditional schools. Programs are designed to help students achieve, even surpass grade level work in a welcoming, accepting environment. Average students arrive at Monarch three years behind grade level, yet for every six months a student spends at Monarch, he or she will progress more than one academic year.

Without education or critical support our homeless youth have a nearly built-in future of becoming another lost generation of homeless adults. Education, is these kid’s one chance to break the poverty cycle.

And So It Began:

Once a tiny spot shared with downtown Rubio’s Fish Taco restaurant that offered it support, Monument began to spread its wings. When Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill lease expired it moved on but donated it’s teeny commercial kitchen to the school to help Monarch rise.

Today that kitchen, about the size of a large closet, is used by Volunteers. They try to provide one weekly opportunity for children who studied all week to return to school Friday evening with their family and share a meal.

Monument works hard to make available what homeless children need. A child comes to school more then a couple days in the same soiled shirt they give out a new one. Now they even have a small shower for those kids who require it.

Children who live some distance can still get to school thanks for the city allowing Monarch to issue kids bus and trolley passes. Some children come from as far away as Escondido outskirts where living costs are far less then in the city itself.

Meals required for learning are also provided by Monarch these days. Not that “Hungry Children” is something new. Just one of many celebs, Oscar winner Jeff Bridges founded “No Kid’s Hungry” vowing to never stop so long as there is one hungry child in America. Unfortunately lust for feeding young minds doesn’t get as much support, yet.

Culture Comes To The Butterfly

Kids now even have a new musical program. The school is always looking for tutoring volunteers to make a difference. If you are in a position to help the most resilient children, they’re waiting to meet you.

Afternoon academic support programs can use help, there’s a role for everyone. Otherwise the outlook continues to be bleak for what is best destine to be a lost generation of homeless kids.

Recognizing how desperate the situation, San Diego County Office of Education finally funds a drop-in center where homeless kids can go to get off the streets and into book, staffed with a single teacher, Sandra McBrayer.

Special thanks go to Guidance Counselor Ebber Nava for his generous assistance and time in composing this report.