Boston: Bridging the distance with student support

Although the spread of coronavirus has closed the Boston Public Schools’ buildings, City Connects Coordinators are still at work. 

Coordinators helped close the schools. They put together resource lists for families, helped teachers set up websites, and distributed laptops to students. Then the coordinators leapt with Boston’s schools into the world of online education and on-going student support. 

“Everybody is learning as we go,” City Connects Program Manager Sara Davey says of the coordinators who continue to keep students connected to supports and services. “The thing I’m most proud of is how quickly everybody jumped into action.” 

Losing daily, in-person contact with students is challenging, but the coordinators are building on the hard work they’ve been doing throughout the school year.

“I think the heart of everything our coordinators do is building relationships,” Davey says, explaining that coordinators’ ongoing connections to students, families, and administrators have helped them thrive in the virtual landscape. 

“Our coordinators have gotten very creative in the ways that they are doing outreach to students and families.” This includes jumping into a web-based Google Classroom site to communicate with families as well as providing a wide range of other kinds of assistance:  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/30/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

The economic fallout of the coronavirus epidemic could hurt student learning.

A federal coronavirus bill includes $13.5 billion for schools.

In the shadow of coronavirus, schools scramble to help homeless students.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Taking action in the time of Coronavirus

To meet the historic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, City Connects staff are rapidly translating the pillars of City Connects practice into systematic approaches that serve students and families and support teachers. 

“Many families of the students in our City Connects schools will be especially vulnerable to the worst effects of this crisis,” City Connects’ Executive Director Mary Walsh said last week. “For families whom we serve, this pandemic means unexpected unemployment, heightened food insecurity, lack of child care, and sudden loss of stability provided by the everyday routine of school.” 

To address these complex and layered disruptions, City Connects’ Program Managers and Coordinators are using existing and newly forged systemic approaches to better understand and respond to the comprehensive needs of each individual student both immediately and over the long term. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/23/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

As many of the articles listed below explain, the coronavirus is having a devastating impact on education, threatening students’ access to school meals, their ability to learn, and their connection to their school communities.

Massachusetts requires Boston Public Schools to make significant improvements.

Preteen years are critical for brain development.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Our statement on COVID-19

Mary E. Walsh
Mary Walsh, Executive Director of City Connects

Because the students and families we serve will be especially hard hit by the educational, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for strong and effective approaches to student support has never been greater. To help meet this need, the Boston College Center for Optimized Student Support will continue to bring you information and best practices relevant to effectively serving children and families before, during, and after this crisis. The Center’s flagship program, City Connects, is continuing its commitment to provide high-quality, evidence-driven student support in this challenging time.

As schools across the country shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, City Connects Coordinators are responding to the needs of students and families impacted by this ever-changing crisis. 

“Many families of the students in our City Connects schools will be especially vulnerable to the worst effects of this crisis,” said Mary Walsh, our Executive Director. “For families whom we serve, this pandemic means unexpected unemployment, heightened food insecurity, lack of child care, and sudden loss of stability provided by the everyday routine of school.”

City Connects Coordinators have been hard at work preparing for school closures. Across all our sites, the most immediate and critical need is food for families and children who rely on school breakfast and lunch programs. Every city in which we work has found different ways to address food provision for students. In Dayton, Ohio, for example, coordinators are helping with a drive-by pick up service at school so families can easily obtain packages of food. In Minneapolis, City Connects Program Manager Laurie Acker and her team have helped coordinate regular delivery of boxes containing food to bus stops. They are also letting students and families know which restaurants in the Minneapolis area are offering free food for those affected by school or business closures. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/16/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Housing aid tied to fewer asthma emergencies among low-income children.

Virginia will invest a record amount on early childhood education.

As schools close because of the coronavirus, officials are scrambling to feed students who rely on the meals they receive at school.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Healthy development for every child

At City Connects, healthy childhood development is a rich mosaic.

We don’t just look at children’s health or grades. Instead, drawing on decades of scientific research, we look at four domains and what we call the four C’s

“Research tells us that development isn’t linear – and that development in one area depends on development in multiple other areas,” Claire Foley, City Connects’ Associate Director, explains. 

Foley points to the foundational childhood development research of Urie Bronfenbrenner and Pamela Morris as well as work being done by Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child and other researchers. Building on this scientific base, the City Connects model looks at how each child is developing across four domains: academic, social/emotional, physical health, and family. 

But we don’t stop there. 

“In addition to the four domains, we have broader principles that translate scientific insights into practice. We call them the four C’s, meaning we promote healthy child development by providing services that are comprehensive, customized, coordinated, and continuous,” Foley says.  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/9/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Sleep helps teens deal with stress — and discrimination.

The country needs more high-quality, early childhood data.

The number of homeless youth in Massachusetts soars.

To read more, click on the following links.

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