Since starting our first Family Resource Center in 2007 at Webb Middle School, AVEY has worked to support struggling families so that children are in school, every day, ready to learn. This is only possible when families have what they need to be stable stable and secure. FRC social workers, directors and staff help families with housing, access to healthcare, employment, counseling, utility assistance, food, clothing, adult education . . . whatever families need to move from crisis to stability. Over time, AVEY has started eight FRCs, six of them in north Austin. These six provide a safety net of support for approximately 1,800 AISD families every year. This year, through a grant from the Texas Education Agency, AVEY is partnering with AISD on the NACER project to expand its reach to eight additional elementary schools in North Austin.
Knowing that many of our families move from school to school, AVEY has pioneered a data system, with support from AISD, the City of Austin and Travis County, to track family needs and case management between our campus-based FRCs. For example, if a family moves from Burnet Middle School to Dobie Middle School ( or one of their feeder elementary schools), the history of support for that family travels with them. Efforts by social workers and staff to help families increase stability don’t have to start over each time a family moves. While this may sound obvious, it is something that is groundbreaking in Texas schools.
As part of the TEA grant, AVEY is spreading its support for families through several strategies:
- Providing training for elementary school counselors, Parent Support Specialists and other support staff on how to refer families in crisis to their nearest FRC
- Surveying family needs and interests through the annual FRC Family Needs Survey, distributed at the beginning of each school year and to new families as they register.
- Providing all campuses with updated bilingual resource guides covering 14 areas of family supports as part of their “FRC in a Box” kit
- Providing monthly training for Northeast Vertical Team campuses focused on particular areas, such as housing, utility assistance, employment, and adult education
- Working with partners to expand capacity through our monthly Community School Alliance “collective impact” gatherings at Dobie and Webb
- Coordinating vertical team-wide supports, such as Plus 1 utility assistance through Austin Energy, Blue Santa Christmas assistance and Coats for Kids.
The NACER project is coordinated through AISD with funding from the Texas Education Agency. More information can be found at nacer.org.
To learn more about Austin Voices’ Family Resource Centers, click here.