In our Juvenile Court and Community Schools, where students (and therefore
families) rotate on an average of every 40 to 60 days between, how can staff
build a strong, meaningful home-school connection?
The answer is Parent
Support Network Parent Centers (PSNCs), places where families can access
resources and support services in a safe and friendly environment. According to
Cynthia McGee Burton, Family Involvement Specialist, these types of resource
centers typically aren’t done for court schools, in spite of the great need.
“There are often probationary requirements for children and families
when a child has been released from juvenile hall,” explained Burton. “Maybe
it’s family counseling or accessing resources for help with drug or alcohol
programs, parenting skills or other needs. We’ve found that parents/guardians
need help getting to or following through with those appointments, and that’s
where we come in.”
The PSNCs are located at the East, North and South
JCCS Regional Office sites. The centers are open one day per week in each of the
regions, with community partners “out stationed” in the centers at various times
throughout the month to connect with families. Burton and JCCS Parent Family
Liaisons Alicia set appointments for families, who then have access to many
services they need.
“This isn’t just a helping hand,” said Burton.
“Parents come to us saying, ‘Help me and my child be more successful in the
program and in school,’ and we do. If the family is taken care of, the child is
better off and we help to increase the educational success of our students.”
On any given day, there are four or five agencies in the PSNCs; agencies
and nonprofits have workers stationed in the center, are on call or have a
monthly spot (e.g., every other Tuesday, Probation holds a probation law classes
for parents). In addition to representatives from organizations such as
Grandparent Connection, Mano a Mano, La Mesa Police Department, and the Mobile
Adolescent Service Team, the centers also are home to SDCOE resources and
supports. Staff from the Learning and Leadership Services and Student Support
Services divisions provide parent trainings and workshops, and JCCS
Parent/Guardian Engagement Team members are a constant presence.
innovative approach is as important for JCCS staff as it is for families. Due to
budget cuts, JCCS has fewer Parent and Family Liaisons than before, but the need
for their work hasn’t decreased.
“We got the PSNCs up and running in a
‘fast and furious’ way,” said Burton. “These centers are an example of working
smarter and of a more balanced approach that can serve families in a similar
way” to how they were served before the budget cuts.
So far, the centers
have been quite successful. Nearly 25 people attended the first open house in
the South region, 10 in the North region, and nearly 40 in the East region. One
parent who attended commented, “I think this PSNC will benefit each parent in
their own way. Once they come for their first time, they’ll feel welcome like