Families in Transition program helps at-risk students graduate - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Families in Transition program helps at-risk students graduate

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Marina Mountain Chief's family was evicted from their home in October.

"Once my family left, I didn't have a whole lot of motivation to stay in school, so it was nice having people there that believed in me and were nice and had my back," said Mountain Chief.

Marina says the family moved back to Browning, leaving her in Missoula.

She bounced around from living with an old boyfriend, to moving in with a co-worker, all while trying to balance her job and graduating high school.

This is where Missoula County Public Schools' Families in Transition program, or "FIT" comes into play.

“FIT" is a federal program that gives eligible students the rights to immediate enrollment into school, the free and reduced lunch program and automatic enrollment in all school-based services.

Usually, before children are allowed in school, certain documentation such as immunization records are required to be submitted.

This can be a huge barrier for families on the move due to homelessness.

"Not only is it helping the kids with that routine and that routine gives them a sense of security, getting those kids in immediately gives them breakfast and lunch, gets the maybe some additional food on weekends if we can get them into the backpack program that's provided through the Missoula Food Bank," said Families in Transition’s Trish Kirschten.

Kirschten says there are nearly 450 MCPS students in the FIT program, five percent of the district’s total enrollment.

"It's really important that we keep programs like this for students like me and people who have it rougher than me, I'm sure," said Mountain Chief.

Thanks in part to Families in Transition, Marina Mountain Chief can call herself a high school graduate.

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