Faith Thompson has a long to-do list.
As the homeless education coordinator for Fayette County Schools, Thompson oversees the day-to-day education needs of about 750 students who don't have permanent shelter.
But homeless education coordinator is only one of her duties. She also deals with dozens of other students at the Family Care Center, the Lexington Day Treatment Center and the juvenile detention center.
And Thompson, who is the first school official to sit on a citywide homeless prevention board, is trying to streamline mental health services across the school system.
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"Faith is awesome," said Charlie Lanter, Lexington's director of homelessness prevention and intervention. "Faith is doing all she can, but she is doing more than any one person can do. She has to wear so many hats."
At least four Kentucky school systems — three of them much smaller than Fayette County — have full-time homeless education coordinators.
In addition to Jefferson County, Pike and Greenup counties have had homeless education coordinators for years, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.
Jessamine County, with 114 homeless students in 2013-2014, recently hired a full-time homeless coordinator. Four other school districts in Kentucky are planning to hire full-time coordinators, according to state education department staff.
No state in the country appropriates additional money specifically for homeless education programs, but states with programs that are viewed as successful — including Massachusetts and Washington — have full-time coordinators at the state and local district levels, said Barbara Duffield of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
A U.S. Department of Education survey of homeless education coordinators in 2010-2011 found that they spent a median of two hours a week on homeless education. A July 2014 U.S. Government Accountability Office review of the federal homeless education program found that homeless educators in 7 of 20 school districts reviewed "cited their limited availability to provide training and outreach or the lack of sufficiently trained school personnel as a challenge to identifying eligible students."
In Lexington, Thompson said, growing numbers of homeless kids require a full-time person to tackle their many needs.
"There is a need for a coordinator solely dedicated to the services of (homeless) students in this district," Thompson said.
Fayette County Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk, who has been on the job for less than a month, said he is conducting a top-to-bottom review of all positions in the school district.
"As part of my entry plan work, we will conduct a comprehensive review of the services provided by the district office and our organizational structure," Caulk said. "Once that is complete, I will recommend to the board any necessary changes, realignments and new positions needed to improve our services to students and support for schools."