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EDUCATION : Homeless Youths Offered Some Real Street Smarts

January 20, 1994|RENEE TAWA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Cal Poly Pomona mobile education center will visit Pomona this month, offering free services aimed at enrolling homeless children in school.

The education van will include a bilingual tutor, and parents may get help filling enrollment forms. A therapist will provide counseling, and referrals will be made for immunizations, physicals and other services for children.

Cal Poly organizers do not have statistics on the number of homeless children in Pomona, nor on how many are not enrolled in school. But directors at homeless shelters report that the number of children on the streets is rising, said Nancy Harkey, a Cal Poly professor of behavioral science who is organizing the mobile center.

"It's so erratic. They're in school for a little while, and then they're out," Harkey said. Children do not need a permanent address to enroll in Pomona schools.

Often, homeless families are so preoccupied with day-to-day survival that they neglect their children's education, said Shirley Abrams, an administrator for the county Office of Education, which is providing funds for Cal Poly's education van through a federal grant.

The tutor will help younger children reach their appropriate grade level, and older ones do independent study programs and prepare for high school equivalency examinations.

The van will be at First Lutheran Church in Pomona on Wednesdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting Jan. 26. Appointments are not necessary.

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