BOZEMAN – Often when people think of homeless students in our community, they tend to think of kids in high school. In fact, 48 of the 109 kids identified as homeless in the Bozeman School District last year were elementary school-aged kids.
“That could be students that are living in their car with their families, they could be in a shelter like Family Promise or HAVEN, or even the Warming Center. They could be living in a motel or doubled up with friends and family,” said Anna Edwards, family schools services coordinator for the Bozeman School District.
Most of these kids are originally from the Bozeman community. The school district is able to provide assistance in many areas, thanks to the McKinney Vento Act, which became law in 1987 and provides federal funds for homeless shelter programs.
“We can automatically sign them up for the free lunch program for the whole year. We can be very creative with transportation to get them to and from school as well, and making sure, for instance, all of our students are automatically referred to our trauma-informed program and other supports within the school,” Edwards said.
The district doesn’t stop helping these kids and their families once the school day is over. They also provide clothes, food, and other necessities.
According to Edwards, “That’s all because of our community. We have donations, we have a homeless assistance fund that really goes towards those basic necessities. We also work with a lot of community organizations such as connecting them to HRDC for housing, for instance, or the Food Bank.”
“We also have our shelf at the high school where it’s not only for high school students. I can have a family meet me here and if they have already gone to the food bank, for instance, that month they can come here and get food if needed,” she said.
If you want to and are able to help, you can contact Anna Edwards at (406) 522-6118.
Reporting by Emma Hamilton for MTN News