The Welcome Center & Homeless Resources

Family Engagement and Resiliency Services Serving Students in Biddeford, Saco, and Dayton

The Welcome Center is a “hub” for services for our community's most vulnerable and transient students.  It is intended to provide a thoughtful and deliberate welcome and orientation to our schools, as well as a gathering place and “home base” for families needing additional support and assistance throughout their time in our communities.  

The Welcome Center principally assists:

  • Students and families who have experienced housing instability

  • Families new to Maine/new to the United States who need to:

    • register children in schools

    • connect with medical, dental, and other community services

The Welcome Center processes all school registrations and transfers for families needing translation assistance.  All students identified as needing language screening based on the Home Language Use Survey (HLUS) survey will be screened at the Welcome Center.

Additional services include:

  • Cultural brokering

  • Referrals for food assistance

  • Cash assistance under Senator Rafferty’s legislation

  • Community connections

  • Connecting families with local employment opportunities

  • Advocacy for equitable access to service for newcomers

  • Home visits

  • Coordination with Resiliency Coordinators, nurses, and ML teachers

  • Providing translation services

  • Participation in student support meetings, IEPs, etc.

  • Eliminating enrollment barriers for students experiencing homelessness and securing transportation for those who attend school (or rest their head) in an adjacent district.


John F. Kennedy (JFK) School, 64 West Street, Biddeford
Satellite Office: Young School, 75 Tasker Street, Saco

April Szafranski, MS, CCS, LADC, NCACII
Director of the Welcome Center
McKinney-Vento Liaison
Phone: 207-282-4134
Cell: 207-423-7330

The services of The Welcome Center are made possible by several grants, including grants from Catholic Charities, the Governor’s Office, and the McKinney-Vento office at the Maine Department of Education.

Homeless Students

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act helps students stay enrolled in school during times of housing instability which can impact their education. McKinney-Vento protections apply to all public school students, pre-K through grade 12, who “lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence”, including children and youth:

  • Sharing housing due to loss of housing or economic hardship

  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or campgrounds due to lack of alternative adequate housing

  • Living in emergency or transitional housing

  • Abandoned in a hospital

  • Having a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodations

  • Living in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station, or similar setting

  • Migratory students meeting the descriptions above

Enrollment & Transportation:

  • Students may remain enrolled in the schools they have been attending even if they are temporarily staying out of the district but also have the right to enroll in their new school of residence.

  • Enrollment should be immediate, even if families cannot provide typically required documents or immunization records right away.

  • Schools must provide transportation for students who need it to attend school.

If you believe that you or your child is homeless, please inform the person registering you, or the Director of the Welcome Center listed above as our designated McKinney-Vento Liaison.