A Collaboration Story
A coordinated effort between A Child’s Place and Communities In Schools provides a seamless continuum of care for a population that too easily falls through the cracks
“We have a wonderful collaboration with Communities In Schools,” said Susan Hansell, executive director of A Child’s Place, about the effort the two agencies expanded last fall. “In our mutual schools, if a CIS student should experience a homeless crisis, A Child’s Place is ready and able to take on the family.”
A social worker from A Childs’ Place will assess the family’s needs, making vital referrals to agencies providing financial crisis assistance, support for victims of domestic violence, support with medical or legal issues and any issues the family is facing. A student advocate from A Child’s Place will work with the child to ensure that – especially during the homeless period – the child is focused on being in school and prepared socially and emotionally to learn.
Communities In Schools’ (CIS) programming focuses on monitoring and improving school attendance, academic support through volunteer tutoring and mentoring, basic needs support (food and clothing assistance), college and career awareness/access and opportunities for civic and cultural experiences. The ultimate goal is helping students be successful in school and remain in school until graduation.
Where there appear to be barriers to learning, CIS intervenes. “We ensure there is collaboration between both our professional staffs to best serve the student and family,” said Andrew Ladd, Communities In Schools’ vice president of partnerships and agency planning. “Through the multi-tiered approach, we confer about cases where there is concern about academics, behavior, lack of clothing, needed financial assistance and other obstacles which may result in the child and family being in crisis.”
“Our agencies work collaboratively to assign students to the appropriate agency,” he continued. “In some instances, the student is best served by one agency, and in other situations, the student and/or family is best served jointly. Through this cooperative approach, there is dialogue among the staff, including school-based staff to ensure the necessary services and resources [are deployed].”
Together, the agencies help ensure there’s a safety net for children experiencing homelessness. If a child is already on A Child’s Place’s caseload and has the potential and ability to benefit from CIS programming, A Child’s Place will alert the CIS site coordinator.
A social worker from A Child’s Place encourages the parent to sign the child up with CIS. Also, if a child on a CIS caseload becomes homeless during the school year, the CIS site coordinator will notify A Child’s Place to ensure that the family can access all the resources they need.
A Child’s Place works with a family through the entire school year of homelessness and encourages students and parents to sign up for CIS if they go past the current year.
Thanks to these two CFSC agencies for partnering for the benefit of their shared clients – and ensuring a seamless continuum of care for one of our region’s most vulnerable populations.