At their regular board meeting, Milford School District Board of Education learned about the many support programs provided to students and families. According to Ashley Norman, Visiting Teacher, the need for supports have increased since the pandemic began in March 2020.
“We provide many support services, including assistance with truancy, verification of addresses, delivery of food and assistance with virtual learning,” Norman said. “If a student cannot communicate, we will go out to their homes. We connect them to assistance, internet, electric and more to be sure they get what they need. COVID has stressed our families in many different areas which has required us to provide a plethora of services.”
Norman explained that many services have become more internet-based which makes it easier as long as the family can connect with a computer. She also explained that if a child is in school and becomes ill, even if it is suspected they have COVID, the support team transports that child home if the family has no way to come get them.
“We also check in with our families regularly,” Norman said. “We make sure they are keeping up, that they participate in meetings. We also drop by meetings dealing with intervention and SST. I handle truancy court throughout the district while also participating in job interview panels, assist with enrollment and registration plus wearing many other hats.”
Jessenia Carranza, the English Language Interventionist with the district, assists any families who are not fluent in English. She stated that the district has had a many students relocate due to the COVID pandemic and for those who do not speak English, this can be frightening.
“When they have to transfer to another school or district, I go with them to the school to help them with any resources,” Carranza said. “Any family who struggles with English, I work with them to find resources.”
Norman explained that there is a referral program with six categories which include lack of attendance, whether remote or in-school, mental health concerns and more. She also explained that a family may have more than one issue that must be managed because few people fit into “cookie-cutter slots.” In some cases, a family may come in to register without a birth certificate and a referral is made to Norman so that she can help the family obtain what they need for registration.
“Homelessness has been significant this year due to COVID,” Norman said. “There are also other issues that families must manage. Children may be left with an older sibling, a babysitter or a grandparent who is not sure what needs to be done for virtual learning. Also, COVID has restricted some of the programs offered for mental health, housing and food. There are cases where a family needs a specific service ,but they can no longer get it because of COVID. There are also a lot more outpatient services as well as limits on some of the outlier services offered. For instance, there may have been a provider that offered $350 toward rent, but due to funding limits now they can only offer $150. We try to identify other areas where we can help in those cases.”
Board member Renate Wiley thanked Norman, Carranza and Harold Fisher, Student and Family Interventionist, for all they do for the families in the district.
“We know that COVID has affected everyone, but the children who have the greatest need have been greatly impacted,” Wiley said. “We appreciate what you do to help those students.