The Many Working Pieces of Food Insecurity

By: Kenzie Berggren

Fresh cookies and other baked goods seem to float across the store, pulling me in to at least have a small taste. There are sushi platters, magnificent cakes, and foods that are allergy friendly lining the counters as I drop item after item in my environmentally friendly shopping bag—of which I’ll pay for at the register and keep for future purchases. I’m excited to go home and cook these enticing foods knowing they will fuel my body in a healthy way for as long as needed until I come back for my next shopping trip. 

Standing in line to get groceries is an entirely different experience when you aren’t watching every individual item scanned and dropped back into the cart silently calculating if something needs to be put back. 

These times are much harder. When I try to do the math—adding the right amount for taxes, hoping the food I can afford won’t make me sick—I wait. As much as I want to go to the health food store because it will be better for my body, and theoretically will help me save money by being able to buy in bulk, I know this is not an option right now. I search for the best deals, knowing I have to travel and make a whole day trip to get the food I need because I also don’t have reliable transportation beyond the bus that (hopefully) comes by after I check out and not right before. When I get home, I try to measure out my food to see just how far it will stretch and see what nights I need to ask around and hopefully get a meal from someone close to me without having to humiliate myself in the process. I hope a week from now I can do this all again, but since it won’t be a payday week that’s unlikely. My stomach contracts at the thought knowing that familiar pain and wishing more than anything this constant worry wasn’t at the forefront of my every conversation. 

I have been both of these people in my life. Food insecurity can be a single experience, episodic, or can be ongoing.2 Hunger is not a single face issue, and according to the Greater Chicago Food Depository one in seven people in Cook County will experience food insecurity this year. Food insecurity, defined as,” the condition where people cannot reliably access adequate, nutritious food,” impacts various populations all over the country in every single county and every single congressional district.[1, 2] Those who struggle with food insecurity struggle to avoid hunger, whether due to financial hardship or other conditions. In Cook County especially, it is well known how important the zip code you live in is to many facets of your life. The Greater Chicago Food Depository serves many Chicago residents across Cook County, and food insecurity varies greatly across communities. In some neighborhoods, more than half of all residents are food insecure.2 

With such high numbers, you’d think the conversation would be much louder. We all know eating is a necessity of life; yet, we stigmatize and pathologize those who are in need. Food insecurity looks like children and it looks like the elderly. It looks like veterans, people with disabilities, and the working poor. Food insecurity looks like college students, like healthy young families, and like your next door neighbor.[1, 2] Being food insecure does not necessarily mean that a person is able to qualify for federal nutrition assistance programs, and those in need are often stuck facing hard decisions between paying for food and other expenses—like medical bills.2 According to the Move for Hunger, there are 1,658,280 people in Illinois alone that experience food insecurity.1 It would take 296,297 school buses just to hold all of our country’s hungry kids.1 

Chicago HOPES for kids works to help our kids achieve their best academically and improve their literacy, even in times of emotional or personal struggle. While it is a myth that food insecurity only impacts the homeless population, it greatly impacts the working poor and those who are working so hard to maintain their level of comfort. Let alone trying to attain upward mobility, people are struggling just to survive. The families we help may soon find themselves in this situation, even when it seems like the worst could be behind them when permanent housing is attained.  

To understand what it feels like to make such hard decisions and to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, I encourage everyone to complete this poverty simulation by Spent: There are different choices so you may not see each option the first time through. I challenge you to make it the entire month in the simulation—and be happy with the choices you made to get there. This past month, on September 11th’s Day of Service, our AmeriCorps members from HOPES traveled to Union Station to help pack lunches. Along with many other volunteers across the city, our members helped to pack 305,000 lunches to give back to the community. These lunches are going to help a huge number of people, but what about the people it doesn’t reach? That’s where you come in. September is Hunger Action Month, and gifts to the Greater Chicago Food Depository are doubled through September 30th. You can always volunteer—at your local food bank or soup kitchen—and there are plenty of nonprofits around the city that would love your help and support. To learn more about what impacts those who are experiencing food insecurity and other hunger related struggles, I encourage you to look through some of the additional resources given in this article. I also encourage you to learn more about your local policies affecting those struggling, and to do what you can to help those in need. It could happen to any of us, and we would all want a healthy dose of compassion. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with food insecurity, please go to to locate your local food pantry and access services through the Greater Chicago Food Depository. 

To learn more about SNAP benefits and debunk many myths, check out


Move for Hunger. (n.d.) “Hunger and Homelessness.” Retrieved from

Greater Chicago Food Depository. (n.d.) “Hunger Across Our Community.” Retrieved from

Weber, A. (March 14, 2019). “Five Myths About Hunger.” Feeding America. Retrieved from https://www.feedingame

A Tale in Gentrification

By: Ryan Silins


As I walked passed beer cans littering Garfield Boulevard by the bridge I noticed a mural of pink, purple, blue, and yellow shapes that morphed and congealed.  The sky was darkening gray over the Englewood Back 2 School Parade, and the air smelled of rain. Dancers dressed in teal dragged their feet on wet concrete through the pitter-patter of a light drizzle.  I caught a ride to a picnic set-up at Ogden Park, where there was free food, music, and more dancing. The scent of chardogs and White Castle sliders filled the air. I saw several “for sale” signs in what looked like abandoned homes and apartments, all empty and barren.  A big construction vehicle was sweeping the ground and asphalt was being prepared and laid out on Garfield. I was surprised to see this type of construction in Englewood and got to wondering: who was this actually for? Was it for the community that lives there? Or was it yet another example of gentrification in Chicago? 

I do not know for sure, but I am sure that for many years now this city has undergone massive changes in its lower income communities.  Investors have been coming in, buying property, refurbishing it, and reselling it at significantly higher rates than what those in the community can afford.  The Chicago Tribune reports: “some parts of Chicago that historically have seen a pattern of disinvestment are experiencing a significant uptick in housing prices, as a strong economy attracts investors to more areas. The market is moving in those neighborhoods,” said Geoff Smith, executive director of the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University. “There hasn’t been a great set of solutions to prevent displacement and dislocation … to slow down change and encourage neighborhoods to be inclusive.”  This is particularly substantial because the article specifically mentions Garfield Park, Austin, and South Lawndale, all of which are neighboring or direct communities where Chicago HOPES for Kids is involved.

The people in these communities already have a rise in homelessness (ergo the shelters we serve in) and if we are to see the housing prices increase, we will inevitably find more cases of displacement and homelessness.  When creating infrastructure and investing in communities, we need to be respectful and ensure that the work is being done for the betterment of those already in the neighborhood. Gentrification is not the answer to the struggles these communities face.

Environmental Racism

by: Alex Kirchner


As global temperatures rise and industry continues to pollute the air and water supplies around the country, many have come to consider Chicago a safe haven from climate change. With its vast supply of fresh water from Lake Michigan and distance from the threat of rising sea levels, some climate scientists consider it one of the best locations in the country to ride out climate crisis. Add to that Chicago’s vast network of public parks and rooftop gardens that aid in purifying the air, plus a massive newly built tunnel and quarry to manage floodwaters, and it would seem that the city is a paradise (Chicago Magazine, 2018). However, this paradise is far from reality for Chicago’s poorest residents; in fact, Chicago’s vast disparity in climate effects is one of the clearest examples of environmental racism in the country.

The nonprofit advocacy organization Green Action describes environmental racism as, “the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color.” There are countless high profile examples of people of color and those living in poverty suffering the worst of large scale natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina or Maria, but day to day life can also present challenges. In a report from March 2019, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that residents of majority Hispanic and Black areas of Chicago on the Southwest side experienced disproportionately poor air quality caused largely by the increasing shift of polluting industries like trucking to these neighborhoods (WBEZ Morning Shift, March 13, 2019). As a result, Little Village and South Lawndale experience a higher incidence of respiratory conditions like COPD and asthma than elsewhere in the city. Meanwhile, state government has been slow to stop many of the biggest polluters, including Medline, which has been clogging suburbs near Chicago with Ethylene Oxide (The Intercept, 2019). In other cases, the city has outright has authorized further development of diesel-fueled industries in already hard-hit areas like Little Village (Better Government Association, 2018).

Poor air quality is not the only environmental problem plaguing Chicago. Flooding has been an occasional issue in Chicago for decades, and many Chicagoans remember the great flood of 1992 caused by construction crews puncturing unused freight tunnels under the river. However, as global temperatures rise and rainfall has increased across the country, flooding has become a consistent threat. According to the Chicago Tribune, “while the United States has seen annual precipitation climb 4 percent between 1901 and 2015, Great Lakes states have experienced a 10 percent rise over this same period” (March 2019). While this has impacted trendy downtown locations like the Riverwalk as well as more residential areas throughout the city, one of the hardest-hit locations is the majority middle-class Black neighborhood of Chatham on the South Side.

Since 2013, Chatham has been an epicenter of flooding in Chicago, causing many residents and businesses to flee the neighborhood. Property values have dropped between 10-25% due to basement flooding, which not only causes damage to foundations and drywall, but can leave behind rampant mold growth and wastewater contamination. Residents who have chosen to stay are often relegated to the first or even second floors of their property. North Lawndale, another primarily Black community with a higher poverty rate, has also experienced significant flooding (Chicago Magazine, 2018). Because so much of the city is covered in hardscape like cement and asphalt, the increasing volume of rainwater has few places to run but into residents’ basements.

The city government of Chicago has made some attempts to deal with environmental problems in Chicago, including creating a series of parks in North Lawndale with drainage-promoting landscapes and reducing emission on the CTA. However, the continued promotion of pollutant industries like trucking in minority neighborhoods and continued prioritization of flashy, tourist-oriented infrastructure projects like the Riverwalk over large scale flood reduction measures, demonstrates the racism still evident in the city’s policies. In the age of global warming, it’s the South and West sides that are really feeling the heat.

Sexual Awareness Month

By: Ambria Holman

April is sexual assault prevention awareness month. Sexual assault can come in any form. One form of sex assault that is not talked about much is Human Trafficking.  Human trafficking is believed to be one of the fastest-growing activities of trans-national criminal organizations. According to the United Nation Officer on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), human trafficking is the forced enslavement of humans for the sole purpose of to benefit financially.  People who are caught up in the human trafficking business can be sold for the purpose of forced labor, black market organ harvesting, marriage fraud, or sexual slavery.  Sexual slavery also known as prostitution, is the most common cause of human trafficking.

Although human trafficking can affect all people, individuals who are prone to living in poverty stricken areas, and who are minorities have a higher risk of becoming a victim. In particular, women who are in poverty are 70 percent more likely to become a victim to prostitution than men who  have a risk of 20 percent. Out of the 70 percent of women, 40 percent of them would have mostly been child prostitutes. These areas allow for the traffickers to thrive on the mental state of victims hoping to be in better positions than they are in that instance. For every seven people in the United States, one individual will be a victim of human trafficking.  

Today, there are several organization who are trying to bring awareness to human trafficking through all platforms.  Human trafficking is a global business that will continue to grow. Below is a chart that shows the different ways that human traffickers are able to be hidden. Visit for more information about human trafficking as a whole.


TRAFFICKING (English). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 6 Aug.

2012. Web. 18 May 2015.

“Human Trafficking 101.” Stop Human Trafficking, 31 July 2017,

“The Facts.” Polaris, 9 Nov. 2018,

"United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime." UNODC. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2015.

US National. "Slavery Today." End Slavery Now. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2015.

Poverty and the Mental Health of Youth

By: Brianna Beno

In 2016, The World Health Organization declared poverty the most significant determinant of health for both children and adults (Fitzgerald, Jakovljevic, & Miller, 2016). Poverty is a significant component in regards to both the physical and mental health of youth, considering low-income adolescents are twice as likely to display serious mental health needs compared to their middle and upper-class counterparts (Tucker, 2009). Low-income prevents access to the resources necessary to treat mental health needs such as adequate health care services. In addition to health care, poverty often restricts the availability of resources that are readily available to those in the middle and upper class.

Life in poverty exposes young people to many difficulties not experienced by those in the upper and middle class. Factors such as homelessness, food insecurity, inadequate nutrition, poor healthcare, unsafe neighborhoods, and underfunded schools contribute to daily stressors experienced exclusively by low-income communities. (Gupta, 2017.) The constant uncertainty of resources necessary for survival can create patterns of fear and worry in individuals who are struggling to stay alive.

Without access to basic needs such as food and shelter, one becomes unable to focus on much other than the primary resources necessary for survival. The allocation of energy on needs essential for survival is explored by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which states an individual must fulfill survival needs such as food, water, and safety before fulfilling requirements necessary for growth that achieve one’s potential (McLeod, 2017). Maslow's hierarchy of needs demonstrates how failure to meet basic survival needs can prevent the desire to fulfill one’s real potential and become “self-actualized.” For impoverished youth, the constant requirement of securing basic survival needs can have a significant impact on mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) health, as well as the ability to realize potential and excel in academically.

Though youth experiencing poverty face a number of challenges regarding mental health, research identifies social support as a determinant of mental health outcomes. By compassionately understanding and listening to these youth, we can allow them to feel their experiences are valid and their lives are valuable. This method of social support can assist children with their MEB issues, and facilitate the healing necessary to prevent impoverished youth from perpetuating poverty in their adult lives. Social support must be considered by parents, school administrative staff, and policymakers alike in order best assist these vulnerable youth. By implementing social support strategies into the lives of impoverished young people, we can empower them to rise above potential MEB ailments and achieve self-actualization.

Why Volunteer?

Written By: Amelia Murphy

I think Chicago HOPES for Kids has the best volunteers in Chicago. Our volunteers are dedicated, patient, creative, and caring. Volunteers jump into the program with silly reading voices, crazy dance moves, thoughtful questions, and a passion for supporting children who are experiencing homelessness. Becoming a volunteer with Chicago HOPES for Kids means joining an awesome team of people.

At Chicago HOPES for Kids, we hope our volunteers are able to increase awareness about the academic challenges children face while experiencing homelessness. Volunteering is an opportunity to contribute to a cause that you care about. Volunteers come to our program with different interests, some volunteers like to work with children, increase literacy, or be involved at a homeless shelter. Victoria Nartey a community and AmeriCorps Volunteer with Chicago HOPES for Kids shared in reflection “ I've learned more about working and understanding different things about children from different backgrounds and living situations." Through our volunteer program, volunteers are able to learn more acutely the intersection of childhood, learning and developing academic skills and experiencing homelessness.

Volunteers join Chicago HOPES for Kids with unique skill sets. We accept volunteers who have never worked with children before and volunteers who have spent a significant portion of their time working with children. When you volunteer you can develop a new skill. For some volunteers that skill is the ability to work patiently and persistently with children. For others, volunteering develops skills around leadership, public speaking, or being creative. One of the skills Chicago HOPES for Kids volunteers learn is how to turn any moment into a learning opportunity. Many skills volunteers learn in our program space can be utilized beyond the program. Volunteers express an ability to bring new creativity into their work and understanding differences in learning.

Volunteering is also an awesome opportunity to meet new people. Many volunteers with Chicago HOPES for Kids are new to the Chicago community and are looking to get to know more people. Volunteering is also a great way to strengthen a friendship. Having a friend join you to volunteer expands our volunteer support and you can share a part of your life with a friend. The children always provide a great laugh and it is an opportunity to give back while connecting with a community. If you are searching for a way to introduce a friend to Chicago HOPES for Kids or something to do with a new friend from HOPES we are hosting an 80’s Trivia night at Lagunitas on March 4th from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Volunteers get in for free so this is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with people you have met while volunteering. All the beer profits will be donated to Chicago HOPES for Kids! We would love to have you join us.

We love our volunteers and could not provide the after-school program without the hours of dedicated work provided by volunteers. I want to take a moment to thank all of our current and past volunteers. I hope you have experienced the benefits of volunteering through your own experience. Thank you.

“Bring Chicago Home”

By Mel Whitehouse

Working at Chicago HOPES for Kids we are constantly toggling between homelessness by the numbers- nearly 80,000 people are experiencing homelessness in Chicago, their average age is 8 years old, that’s 1 in 20 students in CPS- and a more interpersonal lens through our daily interactions with our students. Inherent in this back and forth is the fact that these staggering numbers and our students are one and the same, and that while our HOPES mission is to help students “succeed despite the challenges of homelessness” the ultimate goal is to end homelessness altogether which can only happen on a structural, policy level. The city was introduced to one such policy initiative when on October 31st Ald. Walter Burnett (27th ward) announced the Bring Chicago Home campaign- a proposal to raise funds for homeless services via a tax on high end real estate purchases. However, the support of 32 aldermen and 66% of the public was not enough for the initiative to make it onto the February 2019 ballot.

The Bring Chicago Home campaign is supported by a coalition of organizations across the city, many of whom we at HOPES frequently partner with including the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Primo Center for Women and Children, Family Rescue and La Casa Norte, that aims to raise the existing Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) by 1.2% for properties over 1 million dollars with all the revenue earmarked specifically for affordable housing and homeless services. The RETT is levied just once at the time of sale and in Chicago the burden is split between the seller and the buyer (note: the increase in this proposal would fall entirely on the buyers portion). The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless anticipates that while this tax would only impact 4% of real estate sales in Chicago, it would generate $150 million a year. This type of a graduated property transfer tax, sometimes referred to as a “mansion tax”, already exists in other cities. Baltimore, for example voted to pass a strikingly similar transfer tax also on properties over 1 million dollars to raise funds for an affordable housing trust, and just this past November, Evanston voted to graduate their real estate transfer tax with brackets for sales over $1.5 million and $5 million.

Opponents of the measure, including the real estate community have a range of concerns, stating that the burden of this tax will end up falling to renters and that it is not a steady enough stream of revenue to effectively address the issues of homelessness. Mayor Rahm Emanuel also came out against the proposal stating that homeowners should not be “treated as  an ATM machine”. Supporters have responded to these concerns pointing to the graduated nature of the tax, and stating that a reserve fund will be created to address any fluctuations and that it will be stipulated that the funds generated from this tax do not supplant those already set aside to address the issue of homelessness. At the end of the day though the merits of the Bring Chicago Home proposal will be decided by the voters as changes to the RETT must be approved by voter referendum.  

However, this debate will now have another year to play out in the public sphere. While the Coalition was aiming to get the referendum on to the citywide February 2019 elections opposition within City Council delayed the proposals progress bureaucratically culminating at the November 14th City Council meeting where Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd ward) and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd ward) called to delay the vote until the December 12th meeting definitively thwarting the proposal from the December 10th deadline to get on the February ballot. In spite of this delay the coalition has restated their aim to continue to build support and are now eyeing the March 2020 ballot. So for now, only time will tell if and when our students, their families and the rest of the 80,000 people experiencing homelessness in Chicago will get to see the increase in funding for services that this tax promises.

For more information and to stay up to date on this proposal go to:

Justice for Who?: A Brief Overview of Restorative Justice in Chicago

Written By: Shiri Burson

We all know what justice looks like. We saw it on Friday October 5th when Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to second degree murder and 16 accounts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a sentence for each bullet he put into 17 year old Laquan McDonald's back. This punitive form of justice is the form of justice we all root for when it comes to those who deserve it. Lock the bad guy up and throw away the key. The trial on Friday successfully did just that. But what it didn’t do was promise safety to an entire demographic of people impacted by police brutality. Can you imagine a type of justice that seeks to preserve safety through community accountability and harm reduction? As stated in the Safe Schools Consortium “Restorative Justice is a philosophy that maintains all members of a community to have a collective responsibility to develop and sustain positive relationships in order to prevent harm from occurring, and that when conflict does occur, it is addressed in a way that focuses on the harm caused, rather than on the rule/law that was broken.” 1

Restorative Justice has been in practice for centuries. Indigenous cultures have come together in circle for conflict resolution since before written history. The term Restorative Justice can be attributed to a tiny town in Manitoba, Canada. The aboriginal people of Hollow Water worked in tandem with the Canadian judicial system to heal members of their community from a continuous cycle of sexual abuse and violence. Offenders were given the option of going to jail or going through a process of healing conducted by elders within the community, their families, healing professionals, and their victims. Community members used traditional Ojibwa rituals to hold circles where offenders were held accountable and given agreements they needed to follow.2 A similar process is happening here in Chicago. North Lawndale Restorative Justice Community Court has teamed up with the Department of Justice to hold non violent offenders between the ages of 18 and 25 accountable. Instead of incarceration offenders are given agreements to uphold that are decided by their peers and the person they’ve offended. 3

Chicago HOPES for Kids uses restorative discipline in the After School Program. This season the program team completely revamped the key components to behavior management at each shelter site. HOPES uses a behavior chart as a tool to help young ones decipher their behavior throughout the entire program day. Originally the chart was a vertical system. Everyone gets a clip with their name on it and everyone starts in the middle of the chart on “I am ready to learn.” Throughout the day clips can move up or down at the discretion of staff and volunteers depending on whether children are being cooperative, thoughtful and kind, good listeners, or could make better choices. The goal of the original behavior chart was for students to reach the top where they become “role-models.”

A State/National Americorps Member felt this system needed some improvement. Nora Laidman suggested that we hang the behavior chart horizontally, not vertically in the hope that it will “help students begin to see their choices as an ever evolving path rather than a ladder of superiority that one may slip and fall from.” Everyone still starts in the middle where they are ready to learn. However clips are moved horizontally to show growth or regression throughout the day. At any point a child’s clip can be moved in the direction of growth when their behavior improves. The program team also changed the wording. Instead of “I am being a role-model” the final destination is “I am being a leader.” Another major change within the HOPES classroom is a Feelings Finder, where young ones can place a magnet over a depicted feeling on a chart. This tool allows our youth to identify and discuss their feelings with a volunteer or staff. It can be used at the beginning of the day or during program when moods change.

Throughout Chicago there are initiatives that use restorative justice principles in order to build community and heal community. Chicago Public Schools have written into their code of conduct more restorative practices such as peace circles. In an article by Ken Butigan he explains that Peacemaking circles are

composed of victims, wrongdoers and members of the community,

it creates a container designed to hold anger, frustration, joy, truth,

conflict, opposite opinions and strong feelings. The Peacemaking Circle

process maintains that no one has the complete truth and strives to

create a bigger picture. It does this using shared agreements, rituals,

symbols and a talking piece held by the person who asks to speak.

A Circle Keeper — what we otherwise might call a facilitator —

guides the process. 4

From 2010-2014 CPS has seen a 36 percent decrease in school suspensions since implementing restorative approaches to discipline. 5 Organizations like Alternatives Inc hold Peace Circles and train youth, teachers and community members at large to become Circle Keepers.

Outside of the school halls in another institutionalized system Pamela Purdie, affiliated with Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, trains officers within Chicago Police Department to become Circle Keepers. In a video produced by A Connected Chicago she describes her experience as at first being intimidating but after time she was able to see the humanness within the officers she worked with. She states “my dream [is] to bring police officers with our youth interacting together so they could see that part...human beings trying to be accepted, trying to be heard.” 6 Enacting restorative practices within CPD won’t guarantee the safety of black men like Laquan McDonald from police officers who have implicit bias, but it is the beginning to a path of healing.

Although restorative justice was created as an alternative to punitive disciplinary actions, it innately builds and rebuilds human connection and empathy. As this movement grows, so do the interconnectedness of the communities impacted. So do accountability, relationships, and healing. While restorative justice is seen in large scale institutions such as the Department of Justice, it starts small with lasting effects as can be seen at an after school program for children experiencing homelessness.


1-Safe Schools Consortium






A Glance at Mckinney-Vento

Written By: Nora Laidman

The often cited McKinney-Vento Act is a series of laws set in place to protect the right to go to school for students experiencing homelessness. This law covers any student without a fixed, regular nighttime residence, also known as Students in Temporary Living Situations, in the Chicago Public School Act. This umbrella covers students living in shelters, those living doubled up (with a family or friend due to financial constraints), students staying in motels or trailer parks, and those living in cars or any place that is not ordinarily used for sleeping.

A principal pillar of this act is the right of students to stay in their school of origin even if they move due to loss of housing. If they are to stay, transportation shall be provided to them in the form of a bus, public transportation pass for child and parent, or other means. According to the National Law Center of Homelessness and Poverty (NCLHP), students remaining in their original school while homeless “means they are less likely to fall behind in their schoolwork, repeat a grade, receive unsatisfactory scores on standardized tests, or drop out of school. They can also find comfort with familiar teachers, friends, and activities”. Should a school transfer be necessary, the act further requires that schools enroll students immediately without typically required records such as proof of residency, immunizations, school records and other papers.

Another key tenement of this act is a student’s right to get all the school services they need, a foundation laid by the Title I Elementary and Secondary Education Law. Its purpose is to grant funding needed to educate disadvantaged children and give them whatever extra academic help and resources they may need. By these laws, students must also be given access to all field trips, before and after school activities, as well as extracurriculars such as sports. For children with disabilities, all special education needs and services must be met. Students must also be tested for gifted programs and granted equal opportunity to partake in them.

Should these rights come into dispute, the student is to be placed immediately into the school and given services until the dispute is resolved. The school must place the family with a liaison who will quickly resolve the conflict. If it is not resolved quickly or their needs are not met, the family has three routes as listed by the NCLHP . The first is to contact their state coordinator. For Illinois this is Marica Cullen, reached at 217-557-7323. A lawyer is another useful resource, with free legal services available at and Lastly, contacting the U.S. Department of Education is a step families can take into getting schools investigated that do not follow the law. To reach the Department’s Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program, call (202) 260-4412.

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 1.33.52 PM.png


                                                                                                     -Nora Laidman, Americorps

Cited Sources:

"Education of Homeless Children and Youth: A Guide to Their Rights .” National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty - About Us, June 2011,

“Title I, Part A Program.” Home, US Department of Education (ED), 5 Oct. 2015,

Behavior Patterns of an Abuser in Domestic Violence

Written By: Namratha Meesala


Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is practiced by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes. Anyone can be susceptible to domestic violence, regardless of age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, educational level, ethnic background and/or socioeconomic status. While women report higher rates of experiencing domestic violence overall, men can also be victims of abuse.

In general, domestic violence is often viewed as physical assault that results in visible injuries to the victim. However, physical violence is only one type of abuse. There are several categories of abusive behavior, each with its own devastating and unique consequences. Other forms of abuse include, but are not limited to: sexual, emotional, economic, psychological, threats, stalking and cyber stalking.

Power and Control

One consistent component of domestic violence is one partner’s persistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other. At first, the abuser may appear charming, charismatic and even easy-going, however, as the relationship continues, aggressive and controlling tendencies begin to manifest and intensify. While at first certain behaviors, such as name calling and possessiveness or distrust may easily be downplayed, over time, controlling behaviors can evolve into more serious incidents such as threatening to hurt or kill the victim if they speak to family and friends. Abusers may also manipulate the victim by apologizing profusely for their actions or attempting to convince the victim that these are displays of love and care. Overall, it is important to keep in mind that domestic violence is not about the loss of control but about total control.

The Cycle

Source:  Figure1: Domestic Violence Cycle


Figure1: Domestic Violence Cycle

In gender-based violence, men are often found to be controlling, manipulative and may even believe they are victims themselves. Some abusive behaviors may stem from a belief in a pre-ordained right to be in charge of all aspects of the relationship. At times, the abuser may seek to change the other’s identity. When this fails and the abuser cannot tolerate it, the path chosen in abuse. Domestic violence is cyclical and can be difficult to escape. The image below demonstrates the phases an abusive relationship may go through and the behaviors abusers may exhibit to gain control in the relationship.

Advocating for the Victim

Domestic violence victims may be hesitant to seek help for reasons such as threat of physical harm, isolation, economic stress, etc. A victim may also stay with his or her abuser for various reasons such as: culture, religion, love, financial hardships, children, etc. However, even if the victim is able to escape his or her abuser, that does not necessarily mean that he or she is completely “free.” Leaving can provoke greater violence as the abuser may feel a loss of control over the victim. In fact, the victim is often times in greater danger following the escape of the relationship. Studies have shown that 1/5 of homicide victims with restraining orders are murdered within two days of obtaining the order and 1/3 are murdered within the first month.

Creating Change
Ending abuse begins by providing a secure outlet for the victim to escape safely from their abuser. This includes increasing the number of safe havens, domestic violence shelters, counseling services, and other forms of trauma support. However, rather than simply addressing the victim, the perpetrator needs to be offered services as well. Apart from being held accountable for their actions, abusers must be offered the opportunity to break the cycle. Not doing so may lead to either the abuser continuing the same behavior with the previous partner or preying on someone new. Interviews done with abusers have shown that abusers rarely believe they have a problem. Therefore, this highlights a need to provide counseling services to the abusers as well. If the issue is not addressed on both ends, a single abuser can generate several victims and continue the cycle of violence. Providing counseling support will have a potential for victims and abusers to refocus and reinvent themselves.

Lastly, abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, an older adult, etc. Everyone deserves to feel valued, respected and safe.