The Families In Transition (FIT) Closet & Clothing Exchange is a program of the Manhattan-Ogden school district which began as a service to homeless children from HeadStart/Pre-K through high school. Thus far in the 2018-19 school year, over 385+ children have been identified as homeless/housing-insecure (FIT).  Schools are required by federal law to make sure these children are outfitted for school, but the district is not funded to do so. The FIT Closet is USD 383’s means of providing necessary school supplies,clothing, shoes, coats, hygiene supplies, and other essentials, so these children can attend class and integrate successfully.

The Kansas Department of Education defines homeless children and youth as those who are living in the following circumstances:

  • doubled up (living with another family)

  • shelter or transitional housing

  • “unsheltered” (cars, parks, campgrounds, temporary trailer, or abandoned buildings)

  • hotels/motels

The FIT Closet & Clothing Exchange is a 100% community- supported project. The College Avenue United Methodist Church donates the building in which the FIT Closet is housed. The Closet is staffed by one part-time/paid coordinator and an amazing team of volunteers.  Caring individuals, churches and businesses in the community all donate supplies. Without this “honor roll” of supportive, caring individuals and entities, the FIT Closet would not exist! Because of Manhattan’s generosity, the FIT Closet is able to assist not only homeless students and their families, but also migrant students and their families, students and families living in poverty, students in foster care, and children with a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).

Number of homeless students attending Kansas K-12 public schools:

2007:  3,569

2008:  4,890

2009:  6,700

2010:  8,452

2011:  8,996

2012:  8,911

2013:  9,330

2014:  10,378

2015:  9,715

2016:  9,265

2017:  8,640

2018: 8,471

In November of 2018, USD 383 ranked 5th in the state with 360 homeless/housing-insecure youth attending our schools. Wichita ranks first with 1869 homeless students, followed by Kansas City (942), Topeka (648), and Olathe (427).

Source: EHCY Data (Education for Homeless Children & Youth) taken from the Kansas Department of Education website:  www.KSDE.org

“During the 2017-18 school year, our number of homeless (FIT) students rose to over 375. We also saw a disturbing number of youth identified as “unaccompanied” homeless youth - those being youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent. My heart breaks for these kids, as I know yours does also.  Thank you for your support!”

Tracy Emery

FIT Closet Coordinator