BOZEMAN — It’s no secret that the rate of homelessness is increasing in Bozeman. MTN has covered many stories about unhoused adults around town, but what resources are available for unhoused kids within our school district?
“We had identified about 139 students—and that's pre-K through 12th grade in the Bozeman School District—for our McKinney Vento homeless education program last year," says Bozeman School District Family School Coordinator Anna Edwards.
Edwards says that number continues to grow.
“This school year we've actually surpassed last year's numbers already, and we're not even halfway through the school year," she says.
Edwards says the district sees students' living situations varying from couch surfing, living with family or friends, shelters, or staying in their car or a camper.
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Act is a federal program ensuring that each child of a homeless individual and each homeless youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as anyone else.
“A lot of what we do is just trying to create equal access to public education, which seems straightforward," says Edwards, "but again, it can be a challenge, but we can make sure that we can get buses or transportation to and from school for our students. They can also stay in their same school throughout the school year.”
The district works with partners including Family Promise and HRDC’s Blueprint Continuum. Blueprint’s Coordinator, Jeremy Alcoke, says this partnership began in 2020 and has remained strong ever since.
"Our wonderful Julie Kelly, who's our systems navigator and coordinator, goes into the school system and works closely with Anna Edwards in both Gallatin and Bozeman High weekly for a couple of hours every week."
All working together to ensure that every child has the opportunity to achieve success.
Edwards shares, "My absolute favorite part of the year is going to graduation and watching our students who I know have been through so much during the school year, watching them get their diploma."