Resource Information Related to COVID-19 & Important Updates Below:
Governor Jay Inslee has extended the temporary moratorium on evictions through June 30th, 2021
If you are behind in rent payments there are resources available!
- Opportunity Council’s Rental Assistance, call 360-746-3826 for instructions on how to apply
Do you feel like your tenant rights are being violated or have other landlord/tenant questions?
- Law Advocates Tenant Clinic offers free legal advice for low-income renters in Whatcom County
Looking for up to date community resource information?
- Community Resources During COVID-19 is a guide to resources available in Whatcom County during COVID-19 kept up to date by the Opportunity Council
- Whatcom Unified Command Website is dedicated to providing current information and resources related to COVID-19 (maintained by the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, and the Whatcom County Health Department)
Other highlighted resources:
- Energy Assistance from Opportunity Council
- Applications can be done on by phone or online, see above link for more information and scheduling availability
- Opportunity Council’s Housing Search Lab provides support to those experiencing housing related difficulties, a great resource for help searching for a rental
- Bellingham Housing Authority currently has several waitlists open for application. Please click link for more information.
- Please contact Emily Humphrey-Krigbaum with the Bellingham School District’s Family Resource Center with any questions on how to apply. All applications for Housing Authority are now done online.
Operation School Bell
With the impacts of COVID on our economy, the amount of awards available to distribute from Operation School Bell (OSB) is far fewer than usual. In the past we’ve had close to 800 awards to distribute to those in need of clothing, and this year we have 256 to distribute across the district. Therefore, we will be distributing the OSB supports on an as needed basis for families. Knowing that the need in the community will exceed the supply, we will be unable to award OSB cards to all the families requesting, however we would still like to know where there is need in case we have other forms of support to provide. If you have questions or would like to be added to a list of those needing clothing support, please reach out to Roxana Parise (Roxana.Parise@bellinghamschools.org) or Emily Humphrey-Krigbaum (Emily.Humphrey-Krigbaum@bellinghamschools.org) . Thank you.
(This program is funded by the Assistance League of Bellingham and provides assistance in buying school clothes, to qualify students must be K-12 and qualify for free school meals)
Family Support Services
Family Support Services includes many important programs including our Family Resource Center, homeless support program, health services, counseling, mental health supports, suicide prevention, social emotional learning, wellness and more.
Family Resource Center
The FRC is a family support center that links school families with local resources and human services addressing the needs of the whole child in order to promote student success. All families are welcome.
The FRC is a safe place where families can access information and available services including:
- Basic needs such as food, clothing, and housing
- Child academic and behavioral support
- Medical and mental health
- Special needs and disability
- Financial and legal assistance
- Educational and employment opportunities
- Emergency assistance
- Bellingham Public School provided resources and educational processes
Shuksan Middle School, 2717 Alderwood Avenue
Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Donations Accepted at the FRC (Shuksan location)
All items need to be in good, like new or new condition.
- Diapers, baby wipes
- Toilet paper
- Laundry soap, dish soap
- Shampoo, conditioner, bath/body soap (full-size, not travel/hotel size)
- Deodorant (men and women)
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
For low-cost internet service information please visit the Family Engagement webpage.
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.
Homeless Support Program Coordinators
Homeless Support Specialist
P: 360.676.6523 / C: 360-303-1588
Homeless Support Specialist
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.
Visit our Community Resource page for information on where to find additional support services in Whatcom County.
District Foster Care Liaison
The general role of the Bellingham Public Schools (BPS) Foster Care Liaison is to facilitate district compliance with state and federal laws as they relate to children and youth in foster care, and to collaborate with the DSHS/Children’s Administration (CA) in an effort to address educational barriers that prevent children and youth in foster care from being identified, enrolled, attending, and succeeding in school.
BPS Foster Care Liaison
Roles and responsibilities of the Foster Care Liaison may include:
- Coordinating with the corresponding child welfare agency point of contact on the implementation of the Title I, Part A provisions.
- Coordinating with the Foster Care Program Supervisor at OSPI.
- Attending training and professional development opportunities to improve district implementation efforts.
- Serving as the primary contact person for DSHS/CA and social workers.
- Leading and documenting the development of a process for making best interest determinations.
- Facilitating the transfer of records.
- Facilitating immediate enrollment.
- Facilitating data sharing with the child welfare agencies, consistent with FERPA and other privacy protocols.
- Developing and coordinating local transportation procedures.
- Managing best interest determinations and transportation cost disputes.
- Ensuring that children in foster care are enrolled in and regularly attending school.
- Providing professional development and training to school staff on the Title I, Part A provisions and educational needs of children in foster care, as needed.
All students now have the ability to access a school counselor. In 2004, BPS only had three elementary counselors and 18 K-12 counselors. We now have a counselor at all 14 elementary schools and 34 K-12 counselors.
Intervention and Prevention Specialists
The district has four intervention/prevention specialists. They are housed in our three largest high schools and Shuksan Middle School, but serve students in all of our middle and high schools.
School nurses are specialized professionals who provide knowledgeable insight into acute and chronic health conditions and normal growth and development. Visit our Health Services webpage.
Youth Mental Health First Aid
Bellingham Public Schools will annually offer Youth Mental Health First Aid Training for parents and teachers. This class is designed to teach participants how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. The course teaches a five-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.
Supports in Schools
Visit our community resources webpage.
In our state, an average of two young people under 25 die by suicide every week and as many as one out of five students have seriously considered suicide in the last year. Bellingham Public Schools recognizes that the school plays a unique and important role in the prevention of youth suicide, violence and substance abuse and in the identification and treatment of mental health disorders in our community. Prevention begins with building a healthy school culture, where students feel loved and cared for.
Bellingham Public Schools Suicide Prevention Plan outlines our approach to prevention of and support for students experiencing emotional and behavioral distress and plans for supporting our school communities after a student’s death.
We continue to grow the MAD-HOPE peer suicide awareness and prevention training. In 2017-18 we trained over 1,300 people in peer suicide prevention training. Often peers are the first to notice suicidal tendencies. Of those taking the training, 92 percent felt confident they have increased willingness to intervene with a person feeling suicidal and know what to do.
Visit our community resources webpage.
Mobile Response Team (MRT)
The district’s Mobile Response Team consists of trained staff who are equipped to support schools when a crisis occurs, such as the death of a student or family member or a community crisis. Resources for Families and Staff when Talking to Children About Traumatic News or Events.
Safety and Emergency
Our Safety and Emergency webpage includes information about what Bellingham Public Schools is doing to keep students and staff safe, school emergency response drills, safety resources for families and more.
Visit our community resources webpage.
Starting in 2015, Bellingham Public Schools moved to a restorative justice approach to discipline. This means that when a student misbehaves, we hold them accountable for their actions and do not immediately resort to punitive actions like detention, suspension, or expulsion as an automatic response measure. Rather than facing an automatic or arbitrary punishment, students work to restore relationships with others and any other impacts on the school community. Restorative practices often lead the offenders to a place of dignity and a desire to do better, whereas punishment can sometimes lead to a desire to give up or act out more. You can also see a blog from our superintendent about restorative justice.