Federal grant will help Bethel’s ‘unaccompanied youth’

Being a kid can be difficult, and it becomes exponentially harder when you don’t have the stability of a permanent home.

As a district, we do everything we can for the roughly 170 Bethel students who are considered “unaccompanied youth,” or students who don’t live with a parent or legal guardian.

Whether they’re staying with friends, living in a vehicle, or camping outside, these unaccompanied students can’t always count on receiving adult guidance or mentorship.

Thanks to a three-year, $135,000 federal McKinney-Vento grant, Bethel will soon be able to hire a “navigator” to help guide those students as they work their way through school toward graduation.

“I think this will help them succeed academically and give them hope and let them know that there are people who care about them, because every child needs that,” said Jackie Crowley, Bethel’s McKinney-Vento Liaison.

The McKinney-Vento program works to provide academic stability and consistency for students who would otherwise be transferring schools, sometimes multiple times in a year.

Crowley said prior to applying for the grant, she and her team spoke with school counselors and students about how the district could best help unaccompanied students. They all agreed that having a dedicated employee to work with students one-on-one would be best.

The new navigator will be in place by the beginning of the school year. The grant money will last for three years, but if the program is successful the district can reapply for three more years.

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