More than 200 students attending Helena schools experiencing homelessness

Posted at 4:37 PM, Jan 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-27 10:40:47-05

HELENA — Helena Public Schools works to assist children experiencing homelessness by providing essential items and services.

According to the school district, 283 students from grades K-12 were experiencing homelessness at the beginning of this month.

Students experiencing homelessness are able to garner help from the school district in order to give them the same shot at learning as the rest of their peers.

“All we're doing from an educational standpoint is we just don't want anybody to fall through the cracks. We want it to be a level playing field for a family who's going through transition,” says Helena Public Schools Homeless Liaison and English teacher, Michele Zentz.

The school district is required to give certain help because of the McKinney-Vento Act of 1987 which specifically targets the education of children experiencing homelessness.

The district partners with various organizations such as United Way and Helena Food Share to provide students with essential items.

School supplies, clothing, food, access to transportation, and immediate enrollment in school can be given to these students.

And experiencing homelessness can look different than we might traditionally think. It can include those students who may be staying with relatives, living in a hotel or motel, sleeping in cars, or in transitional housing.

“If a child is struggling with their basic needs to be met there is, there will be no learning to happen if they're in fight or flight, if they, their basic needs aren't being met. So really, as educators we'd be fooling ourselves if we don't address those basic needs first in the ultimate goal to educate our kids,” says Zentz.

Those who think they may fit this category can reach out to Michele Zentz through Helena Public Schools.