District Support for Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness
The Homeless Support Program serves students experiencing homelessness enrolled in Bellingham Public Schools. Services are provided through existing programs and strategies that integrate individuals experiencing homeless with individuals in non-homeless situations. This program is designed to reduce isolation, maximize stability and maintain consistency for this population of children and youth. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is a federal law that guarantees all children and youth the right to an equal education regardless of their living situation. Protection under the McKinney-Vento Act extends to those who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.
Family Support Liaisons
P: 360.676.6523 / C: 360-303-1588
P: 360.676.6524 / C: 360-393-8738
Support Services for Youth & Families
Children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence qualify for McKinney-Vento (homeless) services. This includes:
- Sharing the housing of others due to economic hardship (doubled up/couch surfing)
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations.
- Living in emergency or transitional shelters
- This includes working with a housing case manager through community agencies like Opportunity Council or Lydia Place
- Living in a public or private place not designated for humans to live
- Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations
- Migratory children living in above circumstances
- Unaccompanied youth (not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian)
All homeless students have the right to:
- School stability – remain at their “school of origin”
- Immediate enrollment – even without required registration documents
- Transportation – to “school of origin” if requested
- Free school meals – students eligible for homeless services automatically qualify
Contact a Homeless Program Coordinator to determine if your child is McKinney-Vento eligible and/or to request services.
For more information about the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the educational rights of children and youth in homeless situations, refer to the following documents:
- Most Frequently Asked Questions
- McKinney-Vento Act – Overview
- Unaccompanied Youth – Law Into Practice
- Bellingham Public Schools: Policy 3115 – Homeless Students Enrollments Rights & Services
- Bellingham Public Schools: Procedure 3115 – Homeless Students Enrollments Rights & Services
- Positive Adolescent Development (PAD), is a 21-day shelter for youth 13-17 through Northwest Youth Services and provides temporary shelter. Parental consent is required.
- Opportunity Council – coordinated entry for homeless housing programs in our community.
- Please view Community Resources (see left column) for more detailed information of local supports
National Resources Around Homelessness
- National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth – NAEHCY is a voice and social conscience for the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. NAEHCY accomplishes this through advocacy, partnerships, and education.
- National Center for Homeless Education – NCHE is the U.S. Department of Education’s technical assistance and information center in the area of homeless education.
- National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty – Lawyers working to end homelessness.
- National Network for Youth – NN4Y works to create a community of agencies, people and resources to champion the needs of homeless and runaway youth, to ensure that opportunities for growth and development be available to youth everywhere.
Community Resource Guide
Visit our family support services page for information on where to find additional support services in Whatcom County.