Montana’s public school districts are doing a better job of identifying homeless students which has improved connecting students with school, community, and local outreach organizations to provide important services.

In a press release provided by OPI, in 2010, just 40 public school districts were identifying homeless students and reporting that information to the Office of Public Instruction, by 2015 that number had increased to 105 public school districts. In 2015, nearly 2 percent of Montana students were identified as homeless at some point during the school year.

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 10 percent of students who receive free or reduced lunch will at some time experience homelessness. In Montana, the majority of our homeless children and families are living with friends or relatives. Under the law, this situation is known as being "doubled up," and is considered a homeless situation if the family is sharing housing due to financial hardship. Homeless families can also be found living in hotels or motels, shelters, and camping out or sleeping in cars.

The Office of Public Instruction currently provides $149,213 in competitive grant funding to Billings, Bozeman, Belgrade, Browning, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell/Evergreen, Missoula and Sidney.

“Montana’s rural landscape will always make it a challenge to provide critical services to our homeless students,” Superintendent Denise Juneau said. “But thanks to community and school partnerships, we’re better able to serve students who don’t have a permanent home.”

The Office of Public Instruction has created this interactive map as a resource for families in need of food assistance, clothing, housing, or medical care.