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The Economic Downturn Impacts Young Students

The economic downturn means some parents are losing their jobs and in some cases, their homes too. KSMU's Missy Shelton explores how these stressful situations impact young students in public school.

Annie Moffatt is a counselor at Campbell Elementary School in Springfield. During our interview several young students stopped in to visit with her.

Moffatt gives out high fives and the occasional meal from McDonald’s to reward students who get to school on time. At Campbell Elementary where nearly 95 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch, encouraging families to get kids to school every day on time can be a real challenge.

Moffatt says parents want their kids to get an education but economic factors can make it difficult.

So in a school where the realities of poverty confront students, teachers and staff every day, what’s been the impact of the economic downturn on students and their families? Moffatt did an informal survey of some Campbell fifth graders.

Moffatt says that’s not surprising because children are very perceptive.

Many families in the Springfield Public School system are feeling the effects of the economic downturn.Becky Morgan is the attendance coordinator for the district. She also keeps track of how many families are homeless.

At last count, as many as 150 families with children in the school district are homeless. Morgan says she thinks the economic climate is contributing to the growing number of homeless families. One part of the problem that concerns her is the impact that homelessness has on a student’s education.

Morgan says the district can work with families that are struggling financially to ensure students continue to succeed in school. Ralene Graves teaches first grade at Campbell Elementary. She says she can see the effects of a family’s financial struggles in the way some children behave in the classroom.

And some families choose not to share that information with the school district. Attendance coordinator Becky Morgan says she understands the reluctance of parents to talk to school officials about their finances.

That’s the message for parents…and for children who worry whether their parents will continue to have jobs and whether there will be money for food and rent, elementary school counselor Annie Moffatt offers some reassurance.