logo. The Bridge Project in PA. Online Mental Health Services for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

The Bridge Project in PA

Online Mental Health Services for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Mental health and well-being can have a strong impact on students’ academic achievement. Research suggests that focused intervention by a team of people at schools and health and community organizations is important to help children and youth overcome the detrimental effects of their situation and help prevent progression to more chronic homelessness later in life. Review the research.

Children and youth experiencing homelessness often do not receive the mental health services they need, either due to a lack of or difficulty in accessing services, fear of stigmatization, or even embarrassment.

The Bridge Project in PA facilitates FREE access to mental health services for children and youth experiencing homelessness and eligible family members. The Bridge Project is part of Pennsylvania’s American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Program and is available for a limited time.

In partnership with our providers, services are available online and at no cost to the student, family, or local education agency (LEA). No health insurance is necessary.

stepping stones across water

For Local Education Agency Homeless Liaisons: Getting Started!

Important: Referrals for The Bridge Project in PA should not be made for students or their families that are in immediate distress and require crisis resources. These students/families should immediately call or text 988 for direct links for suicide prevention and crisis support. See all Pennsylvania Department of Human Services mental health crisis resources here.

  • 1

    Share the availability of The Bridge Project with relevant school staff to determine the appropriateness of this available wrap-around service for the student before making a referral.

  • 2

    Discuss the availability of The Bridge Project in PA with students experiencing homelessness and their families to determine their interest in the available services. Note: Children under the age of 14 must have parent or guardian approval to participate. The Homeless Liaison should work with all students to ensure they can complete necessary intake forms and work with the student if barriers to access arise (i.e., in cases of unaccompanied children and youth under 14 years of age, etc.)

  • 3

    Use the “Make a Referral” form to begin the intake process. You will be asked to enter the county your school is in and will be redirected to the mental health provider’s website to continue the referral process.

  • 4

    Following completion of the referral process, the provider will contact the referring Homeless Liaison and work directly with them to collect necessary paperwork and schedule appointments for the student.

  • 5

    The Homeless Liaison works with the student for appointment logistics and helps to remove any barriers to access. This includes ensuring a device with internet access is available for the student, providing a confidential space to participate in appointments, and working with school-day teachers to accommodate receiving services. Equipped electronic devices are available on a limited basis. Homeless Liaisons may request a device by completing this online form.

Students receiving services must be identified as McKinney-Vento eligible within Pennsylvania’s ECYEH data system. Services must be reported under service delivery for the student.

Meet our Service Providers

Logo. eLuma

eLuma specializes in providing effective, efficient and dependable therapy to students across the country through their districts and schools. eLuma’s mission is to help all students achieve their potential.

logo. Move Forward Counseling

Move Forward Counseling’s mission is to empower youth and adults to improve their lives through excellent mental health outpatient therapy in Pennsylvania. Their highly qualified therapists provide quality and specialized in-person and virtual therapy to individuals and families from all walks of life.

Service provider will vary depending on student location in Pennsylvania. All services will be provided online at no cost. No health insurance is required or requested.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which students are eligible for services?

Children and youth experiencing homelessness enrolled in a Pennsylvania school entity in grades K-12 are eligible for services. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act defines “homeless children and youths” as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” Services may be provided to children as young as 5 years old at the discretion of the service provider.

How do I refer a student for services?

Each Pennsylvania school entity has an identified Homeless Liaison. The Homeless Liaison is authorized to make a referral for a student following the referral process. If you are not the Homeless Liaison but would like to explore services for a student, please use our Homeless Liaison Directory and contact them directly.

How do students access services?

Appointments will generally be during daytime school hours on weekdays, but special time accommodations can be made as needed. The school entity’s Homeless Liaison must assist the student to:

  • Provide an initial referral for services;
  • Assist the student and parent to complete any necessary intake paperwork needed by the provider; and
  • Make accommodations to allow the student to attend appointments during the school day (i.e. providing device and connectivity access, providing a space that protects student confidentiality, working with school day teachers to allow for participation, etc.).

No health insurance is required or requested and all payment for services will be handled by Center for Schools and Communities. School entities or families will not be billed for services.

Are electronic devices available to assist students with accessing services and appointments?

Yes. A new smartphone with case and screen protector equipped with a service plan is available to help students access services for a limited time at no cost. Service plan includes unlimited voice communication and unlimited hotspot and internet access.

Powered by T-Mobile and Premier Wireless, the “Connecting People to Resources” program provides an education device connecting students to the school and community resources they need.

Homeless Liaisons may complete this online form to request a device.

Which service provider will work with my student?

Students, family members, and school entities work directly with experienced counselors at one of two well-established online mental health providers.

Pennsylvania’s Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness (ECYEH) program has eight regional offices located across the state, who are dedicated to ensuring the educational needs of students experiencing homelessness are being met in every school and community across the state.

eLuma will provide services in Pennsylvania ECYEH Regions 4, 5, 6, and 7.

Move Forward Counseling will provide services in Pennsylvania ECYEH Regions 1, 2, 3, and 8.

Not sure of your PA ECYEH region? View our region map.

Which family members of students are eligible for services?

Family members of eligible students may also participate and receive services depending on service provider availability. Immediate family members and any family members directly involved in the care or education of the student experiencing homelessness may be eligible.

Depending on the needs of the student and family member, services may be provided with the child or one-on-one with the family member.

Homeless Liaisons may make a referral for a family member to receive services the same way they make a referral for a student.