CSL’s Family Stability Initiative, a high-intensity case management program, with a goal of keeping kids stably enrolled in their neighborhood school the entire school year, has largely been based in an office setting, with home visits sprinkled in. That model has worked well, and we will continue to operate in that fashion. Starting this week, we debuted Family Stability on a new platform, and that is school-based. Our newest Family Stability Specialist is based inside of Nowlin Middle School in Independence.
CSL looks for platforms to deliver services. That is to say, a platform is an advantage. A good example of a platform is at Hawthorne Place Apartments, an affordable housing neighborhood where CSL maintains an office to support neighbors. Families at Hawthorne have safe, reliable, and affordable housing, if nothing else. With housing taken care of, they can focus on other life domains. That’s why we refer to affordable housing as a good platform on which to deliver services.
We perceive schools as a really positive platform to deliver services. At a school, you have supportive relationships (teachers, administrators, etc.), a safe place to gather, it’s accessible for people in a neighborhood, there are additional early and late hours, childcare is on-site, and people, generally, just like schools. Embedding a staff person at Nowlin is a bit of a pilot project, but one we think will be very successful. This helps us “meet people where they’re at,” and it increases a family’s connection to their home school, which encourages relationship-building and stability. This opportunity came about through funding from the Jackson County Community Children’s Services Fund, and we have funding for two years (at least). You can read a previous blog post of mine to learn more about our work in Family Stability…
Think about your family for a minute. I bet you have many connection points into your community - your neighborhood, your church, your work, your volunteer organizations, etc. Your connections have probably enriched your life in many ways.
Many families don't possess any connections. Their life has been defined by transiency, and a lack of stability. When kids are in this situation, they oftentimes don't trust people, don't engage, and they just assume they'll be on the move again soon. This mentality is especially damaging for kids and their school. For kids to learn, they must trust their teachers, and engage with their peers.
The Family Stability Initiative works to break down barriers and keep families stable. By remaining stable, kids get the consistency and structure their brains crave. When families remain stable, they engage in their community, and they can build relationships.
Our Family Stability Specialist, based in Nowlin, can more deeply engage with kids in a school setting, which can strengthen the overall work with the family. The position will also be intentional about being an additional resource to help build positive school culture, and will work creatively in the Van Horn High School area to help families be part of strong neighborhoods.
The CSL of the future must be adaptable to different environments, and must always be looking for innovative ways to connect with families. We are grateful to have been invited to be part of the Nowlin Middle School team, with special thanks to Nowlin Principal Dr. Cristin Nowak for her and her team's hospitality, and we look forward to sharing updates with you about this new approach.