Waco: Organization helping homeless teens plans to expand

The Cove is using a federal grant to stay open longer hours and help more students across Central Texas.
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 2:27 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A local group that looks out for homeless youth is expanding its reach.

Instead of just helping students in the Waco community after school, The Cove will be able to help all students in the Heart of Texas region from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m thanks to a federal grant.

The Heart of Texas Region covers schools in McLennan, Bosque, Hill, Limestone, Freestone and Falls counties.

The Cove is a place where students can go to get a hot meal, take a shower and do laundry, or get help with school work.

Kelly Atkinson, executive director of The Cove, said the pandemic has meant students who were already vulnerable have been more likely to drop out.

Without school there aren’t as many people who can refer the students for help. Atkinson said the grant will mean The Cove can continue to coordinate with other local resources.

“A more concerted effort, a more coordinated effort from organizations like The Cove and MHMR and the family abuse center to say we’re going to work together if any of us know that there’s a youth under the age of 24 that needs support with housing with mental health care with educational goals,” Atkinson said.

She added during the pandemic, there haven’t been as many students coming in, but Atkinson expects that will change later this year after a vaccine.

“It’s not until we really re-institute some of those institutional, you know, getting back to school everyday and counselors meeting face to face with students. Those are the ways that we identify youth who are struggling,” Atkinson said. “And those haven’t been able to happen in the same way this year so it does feel like perfect timing to be able to be building the infrastructure that we’re building as a system because national data is suggesting that poverty and homelessness will increase as a result of the pandemic and so we’re ready for that we’re getting ready for that.”

Atkinson said if anyone in a school in the Heart of Texas region sees a student who they think could benefit from help at The Cove, they can reach out for assistance.

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