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    Preventing child homelessness in Arkansas

    7:35 PM, Jun 28, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Over 14,000 children are homeless every night in Arkansas.

    According to a report from the National Center on Family Homelessness, Arkansas has the third highest rate of child homelessness (PDF) in the United States.

    A $300,000 grant from the Siemer Institute for Family Stability has been awarded to the Heart of Arkansas United Way.

    The money will be used to fund a program, through United Way and Our House, that will help families at risk of being seperated due to homelessness.

    The program, known as the Central Arkansas Family Stability Institute (CAFSI) will provide a "one-stop" center for to help with everything from counseling to on-site interventions.

    LaShondra Newsome is a mother of four: three boys and a girl.

    A former resident of Our House, she is now the first member of CAFSI, a program to help those living on the edge.

    "A lot of kids are not aware of why they go through what they go through," Newsome said.

    She attended the launch of this program Thursday with two of her sons, Samuel and Zion.

    Education assistance is something the Family Stability Institute will help with.

    "They may be at risk of how to change schools. It's like taking them from their comfort zone. It's hard enough losing your home but your school, new friends, sometimes that can be difficult," Newsome said.

    The CAFSI program at Our House is working to help with that issue.

    Executive Director Georgia Mjartan said it's all about keeping families stable, even down to a regular school schedule.

    "They're going to go back to same classroom where they were yesterday, and they're going to be able to bring that homework that they worked so hard on...and they will be able to bring that homework in and be proud of having done their work. Those kids will be able to know that if they put the work in, they can be successful," Mjartan said. 

    Successful families, easing back from the edge of homelessness, just like Newsome.

    "I'm able to have a stable home for me and my children," Newsome added.

    In addition to the $300,000 grant, the Heart of Arkansas United Way has committed an additional $100,000 for the first year and is planning to fundraise the next two years in order to match.

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