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March 14, 2013
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New drop-in site for homeless students

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - More than 300 children have been identified as homeless by Mesa County Valley School District 51, which translates into about 200 families who are either homeless or living in temporary or transitional housing.The new drop-in center for the school district's REACH program (resources, education and advocacy for children who are homeless) opened Jan. 15 at 596 N. Westgate Drive (off Patterson Road, behind B&H Sports). People who qualify as homeless and have a child attending school in the district may sign up at the center for various services such as the free breakfast and lunch program at school.Prevention services coordinator Cathy Haller said the drop-in center is designed to make it more convenient for homeless families and their students to access REACH programs."People can talk to us about what their needs are," Haller said. "We have lots of community partners, and we can connect them with other community services."Telephones are available at the site for people to use to make various appointments.Families can also sign up at the center for waived school fees so their students can afford to participate in sports and other activities. Additionally, families can learn about Grand Junction Parks and Recreation scholarships for its programs.Free, donated hygiene products and school supplies are available at the drop-in center, as well as new socks, underwear and pajamas, Haller said. Hoodies, sweatpants, coats, hats and gloves are also available. Located in a modular building, behind the Basil T. Knight Center, the center is open Monday and Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to noon; and Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Qualified families, regardless of their housing status, can enroll in Medicaid at the site, Wednesdays and Thursdays. On Thursdays, Spanish-English bilingual services are available.REACH advocates will continue to schedule individual appointments as well, Haller said. The idea behind the drop-in center is to make it more convenient for families, she said. Plus, it saves the district some mileage reimbursement costs associated with individual appointments, Haller said."It's hard for some families to make appointments," due to transportation issues, Haller said.

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 21, 2013 06:16PM Published Mar 14, 2013 01:52PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.