From . . . wait for it . . . Dave Wiganowsky!
So, some schools let the kids shower there, but kids might be too embarrassed to do it. An evening time when less people are around to see, and allowing the whole family to do it would be awesome. Apparently, some schools also help with laundry (hint, hint). Thanks Wiggie for trying!
October 9, 2013
TO: Members of the Dane County Education Task Force
Superintendent Mark Elworthy, Wisconsin Heights School District
FROM: Supervisor Dave Wiganowsky
SUBJECT: Addressing the Needs of Dane County’s Homeless Families
I am writing to propose a partnership between the county and the county’s schools to meet one of the often unmet needs of homeless children and families – access to shower facilities.
As you know, the Dane County Board of Supervisors has been working hard to put in place services for homeless individuals. Last week, the Board approved a resolution to provide day services and transportation options. With colder weather approaching, it was imperative to supplement existing services so individuals would have a warm place to spend time throughout the day.
In August, the City of Madison reported that families with children were the largest group using homeless shelter services in Dane County last year, when 1,436 individuals — 881 of them children — spent at least one night in a shelter. Limited space at homeless shelters meant that 1,650 people were turned away from shelters in 2012 and nearly two-thirds of that group was families with children. When families get turned away from shelters, they often end up in vehicles, abandoned buildings or on the street.
Among the challenges that continues to face the homeless is access to the facilities to shower. In fact, the Madison Metropolitan School District includes a list of “homelessness warning signs” on their website, which includes poor hygiene as a result of a lack of shower and laundry facilities.
Many schools, particularly middle schools and high schools, have shower facilities. I wonder if school districts throughout the county could help to meet the needs of homeless families by allowing them to shower at school a couple evenings each week. I know that the logistics of getting individuals to the schools and then back to shelters would need to be developed. I urge the Education Task Force to work with the Homeless Issues Committee and with the county’s school superintendents to see if, together, we might be able to help these families in need.
Please let me know in the next two weeks what might be needed for the county and the schools to move this concept forward. I appreciate your consideration of this idea.
CC: County Board members, Lynn Green; Tim Saterfield; Bob Lee
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