Castro Valley Unified builds out a support network

As number of families lacking permanent housing increases, Castro Valley Unified builds out a support network

As number of families lacking permanent housing increases, Castro Valley Unified builds out a support network

Castro Valley
July 30, 2019

By Parvin Ahmadi
Superintendent
Castro Valley Unified School District

It takes a village to support students and families. In line with our goal of meeting the academic and social emotional needs of all our students, Castro Valley Unified School District’s (CVUSD) effort to serve all students and families was expanded last year to better serve the growing number of students and families in transition due to lack of permanent housing.

As with all Bay Area school districts, the number of students and families who face lack of permanent shelter increased last year. The number of families who faced such challenges that we in Castro Valley Unified School District were able to identify and serve increased from 64 to over 90 during the year.

Our social workers made a concerted effort to directly engage all families to inform them of services available to support students in and out of school. These efforts were received with gratitude and allowed our social workers to continue working with families in need in order to connect them to other agencies and needed supports as well.

Working with Moms Against Poverty (MAP), a non-profit foundation based in the Silicon Valley, we were able to secure their support to provide food for families in transition. MAP donated a brand new freezer, located in the Resource Center at the District Office, that the organization stocks with frozen/perishable food items such as organic meats, fish, chicken, and vegetables from Whole Foods on an ongoing basis. CVUSD’s Parent Liaison works directly with MAP to replenish the perishables as needed so that families have access to food at all times. We are in the process of working with MAP to increase services to our families in addition to food distribution.

The Resource Center is staffed at appropriate times by CVUSD’s Parent Liaison on a regular basis as well as a social worker as much as possible. As families visit the center to pick up perishables, we are able to communicate with families to ensure they are connected to important services in and out of school. Items of clothing for students and adults that have been donated by staff are also available for families.

Through ongoing efforts, we have also formed a great relationship with the Alameda County Food Bank. Each Friday, CVUSD families in need are able to pick up bags of non-perishable groceries provided by the Food Bank for the weekend at two locations in the district; Stanton Elementary School and Marshall Elementary School. In a matter of two months two hundred bags of non-perishable were provided to families.

The above outreach efforts to serve students and families in need of support are complemented by the ongoing support of other charitable organizations and groups in Castro Valley, namely Castro Valley Rotary and Castro Valley Outreach. In addition to donating to several other programs, the Castro Valley Rotary provides backpacks and school supplies to students each year.

CV Outreach, a non-profit local organization, helps Castro Valley families through the holiday season with a Thanksgiving Food Drive and providing Christmas trees and holiday gifts each year.

This summer, initiated by Board President Dot Theodore and supported by the Castro Valley Education Foundation, new shoes/funds were collected to purchase new shoes for students whose families are economically challenged.

Having access to basic essentials is key to student learning. Children who face challenges such as food scarcity, permanent shelter and other basic needs must be provided support in order to be able to focus on their studies in order to reach their goals. It takes all of us in Castro Valley and beyond working together to ensure every child’s needs are met. We are extremely grateful to have wonderful partners such as MAP and the Alameda County Food Bank as well as local charitable organizations to enable us to support the growing number of families who face housing and food insecurities and challenges.

I am often reminded of the importance of Mother Teresa’s words: “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”

As always, we welcome forming new partnerships to continue and expand our support and recognize that truly realizing our promise that ALL means ALL is multifaceted and requires ongoing collaboration and creativity.

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