At City Connects, we don’t just connect students to services, we connect them to a customized set of services and enrichment opportunities that meet their individual needs.
At the heart of this work is a core task: building trust with families.
Coordinators use this combination of customization and trust to help families through challenging times. This means learning how best to engage and support kids; cutting through bureaucratic red tape; and sharing insights and resources with parents. Coordinators might help a family get beds or guide immigrants who don’t speak English through the healthcare system. Our goal is to strengthen families so that students have everything they need to thrive.
This work starts early. And it continues for as long as students are at school.
“It takes time to warm the parents up to the fact that I and everyone in the school is supporting the family and not attacking parents for not parenting perfectly,” says Julie Vogel, the coordinator at the Paul A. Dever Elementary School.Continue reading →
City Connects makes connections. We connect students and their families to tailored sets of resources. We connect schools to an array of community partners. And we connect what we are learning about integrating school and community resources to larger, national conversations.
Our work is a leading example of how schools can help students overcome hardships by providing “integrated student support” that weaves services and enrichments into the fabric of schools.
In the high-poverty communities we serve, many of our students experience challenges and traumas, which is why our support of their healthy development takes many forms.
It’s a joint effort that unites school staff, City Connects coordinators, families, and community partners, so that every child gets a network of support tailored to meet their needs.
Part of the role of our coordinators is to use their training as social workers or school counselors to discern who could benefit from more opportunities to build social-emotional skills and relationships to better manage their emotions, and who could benefit from more intensive mental health services to help them be ready to learn.
Once coordinators make this determination, they spring into action. They do regular check-ins with students and families going through tough times. They find community partners who can provide mental health services, including one-on-one counseling. They run social skills groups. And they support teachers and other school staff find productive ways to talk about and address students’ struggles.Continue reading →
To get better at what we do, we look at data and listen to feedback.
In our model, coordinators in each school conductwhole class reviews to learn about students’ strengths and needs. Students are then connected to individually customized services. The data from this work is entered into our Student Support Information System, our proprietary web-based database.
It’s a process that we’re always working to improve. City Connects coordinators are always thinking about how to help the students make progress, and the program managers who support and supervise the coordinators are always looking for ways to improve.
One of the people who gathers this feedback from our staff is Lynne Sullivan, City Connects’ Director of Implementation. She serves as a resource and a conduit for the program managers, ensuring that they have what they need to make sure our practice is working. And when program managers share things that might enhance the practice, Sullivan brings this information back to our implementation team.Continue reading →