For Immediate Release
June 27, 2007

Illinois State Board of Education sponsors innovative fine arts program for state’s homeless children

Six homeless shelters participating in summer pilot program

Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today that six family homeless shelters throughout Illinois will participate in an in-shelter fine arts education pilot program this summer for elementary and middle-school homeless children.

The Summer Camp in the Shelter program is designed to allow homeless students in kindergarten through eighth grade an opportunity to learn about the fine arts in an engaged and fun atmosphere. The program will give homeless students another avenue to express their creativity, while also learning important social and life skills.

“Every child can benefit from the arts. Research has shown the importance of the arts to a student’s academic and social development,” said State Superintendent Christopher Koch. “This link becomes even more important for a homeless student, who often experiences poverty and a state of constantly changing atmospheres.”

To ensure success in the program, each participating shelter has received an Artworks curriculum, curriculum CDs and video tapes, numerous books, supplies and other resources. The summer program is funded by the Federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act Funds for homeless education and youth.

Artworks is a series of curriculum units designed, developed and provided by the Institute for Children and Poverty. The standards-based curriculum uses of social studies, language arts, literature, film, history, drama, creative and fine arts, to assist children experiencing high mobility, poverty and homelessness with a window to culture and their engagement in the production of culture. This marks the first time that the curriculum will be used in homeless shelters.

The six participating shelters are:

The Illinois State Board of Education has also made training school personnel in compassionately identifying students as homeless a priority. Data collected by local school districts in 2006 indicated approximately 18,000 students in Illinois schools were homeless. However, based upon the most current research methodology, and the 750,000 students who receive free or reduced price lunches, it is estimated that the number is more likely 60,000 homeless students in Illinois.

Additional information on homeless education issues can be accessed at or by calling the Illinois State Board of Education Information Hotline at 800-215-6379.