One of the boys, "K," was outside the shelter when I arrived this morning. I asked if he was coming to school, and he said no. I told him I'd miss him and hoped to see him next Thursday.
When I got up to the room, I learned he'd been put on a behavior plan, which is an escalating set of sanctions that are imposed when a kid starts to act out and is not cooperative in class.
In the week since my last volunteer day, K had stopped minding teachers and was fighting with other kids. He just wouldn't stop the bad behavior. When that sort of thing happens, the parents get involved. Today, his parents would have to come in the class each hour to check on him. They decided to just keep him with them instead.
(We had another boy, "E," whose mother had to come in once this morning. He was very subdued this morning and didn't participate in activities, but improved as the day went on. When his mom showed up, he was doing pretty well.)
There's more to the story. When I talked to K last week, he said his dad was away at work, and he missed him. It sounded like work was out of town.
Sometime early in the week, the dad came back home, and K wanted to be with him. It's possible the behavior problems were his strategy for getting sent home (in the shelter), so he could be with his dad. Being kicked out of class was actually a benefit in his eyes. In any case, he was with his dad out front when we were on the playground. I asked if I could talk to him, and the dad brought him over. I told K I was glad his dad was home, but He needed to start making better choices about how to act. I really hoped he could be in class, because I missed having him and he needed to be in school. The dad was supportive.
A girl, "A," was having her last day. Her parents have found housing and are moving into their new home.
A's mother lost her job and hasn't worked since A was born. Her dad lost his job, and then they lost their house. They went from middle class family with a sweet, well-adjusted daughter to living in a shelter.
I'm sorry I wasn't around when both parents got jobs last week. It was a huge, emotional day for them. Maybe it's good I wasn't around, because it makes me tear up just to hear how excited they were to be back on track with their lives.
That's what this place does for people — gives them a little stability until they can do for themselves. I guess you could call it welfare, but it's nothing like the welfare the MNGOP wants you to imagine — and to stop funding with your hard-earned dollars.