In a normal year we would be days away from our Back to School Bash, where we invite families from our summer program to see all that the kids learned and created, enjoy a meal together, and give each child a backpack filled with the supplies they need to start a new school year.
This year is, of course, different from any other. We have spent a lot of hours this month working to determine how we may best support families as they start a new school year virtually, while at the same time ensuring their health and safety. We heard one thing loud and clear - parents and caregivers need our help.
We’re excited to share our plan with you today.
As we did this summer, our school year program will follow the safety guidelines for Kentucky child care centers, including wearing masks and small group sizes. We will be providing full-day care and academic support for school-age youth.
We’ve added two new members to our team in the role of Youth Advocate. Ashley and Jessi will work with families and JCPS resources, provide hands-on learning, serve as mentors and facilitate activities that support social-emotional well-being.
More broadly, our Family Services program operates our emergency food bank and coaching program. They provide one-on-one coaching, emergency referrals and family activities like healthy cooking classes and game nights. Increasingly, we are helping families with unemployment claims, health care access, and eviction prevention.
Our Youth Advocates and Family Coaches are working tirelessly to support our families and ensuring they have what they need.
There are many concerns and moving parts involved in any decision to open our building to members at this time, but ultimately this decision was an easy one.
JCPS estimates that half of the households in Jefferson County do not have internet access to interact with teachers and complete assignments, and the school district has approximately 6,000 young people experiencing homelessness.
The families we serve are some of the most vulnerable in the city, and the need to support them during this time cannot be overstated. Without help, students will fall further behind. The unequal distance a child must go to achieve success in life will continue to widen.
We will continue to follow guidance from the school district and state officials on how to safely implement our programming. Circumstances can change quickly, and we’re prepared to change with them while still continuing this important work.