Whether it’s child or substance abuse in the home, poverty or a family tragedy, school-based family resource youth services centers are among the first to respond.
The centers, which work in schools across Kentucky to eliminate non-academic barriers to student learning, help with donations of school supplies, food and clothing, referrals to health services, and other support services.
That’s why a recent boost in state funding for the centers is commendable. We’d like to thank state lawmakers for allocating an additional $8 million for the centers in the state budget last spring.
The increase marks the first time new funding has been available for the centers in 10 years.
For Warren County Public Schools students, it means the opening of centers at Greenwood High School, Jennings Creek Elementary School, Rockfield Elementary School and a joint center at South Warren Middle School and High School. Those centers will serve schools with significant immigrant populations and students who live in rural parts of Warren County.
Across the state, the increase in funding is supporting 28 new centers and helping existing ones expand their services. Kentucky now has 854 family resource and youth services centers.
Todd Hazel, director of student services for Warren County Public Schools, said his district has been trying to get funding for a proper center at Greenwood for years. The school has had a room staffed with volunteers and funded by donations, but it lacked a coordinator, Hazel said. It will now be a state-funded center.
“Thank goodness funding became available and we applied for it,” he said.
Hazel said the new centers will serve more students from low-income households.
“Ultimately the centers (that) got funded had higher free and reduced lunch numbers,” he said.
The state’s family resource and youth services director, Melissa Goins, said in a news release that the school-based centers go beyond simple food or clothing donations.
“Our program coordinators have long been the first line of service for children and parents – recognizing signs of suspected child abuse, providing a link to job training and career services and offering referrals to substance abuse, mental health and other medical services,” Goins said. “Every center is unique to meet local challenges and best utilize local resources.”
We believe these new centers will make our schools and our community stronger, and that’s something to celebrate.