Families of students enrolled in the Monticello Central School District will have greater access to support, thanks to a partnership between the district and the Sullivan County Department of Family Services. Beginning in early February, the district will open a Community Resource Center twice per month at Robert J. Kaiser Middle School where families in need of assistance with food, heating, employment, housing or any other challenge can meet with a caseworker to discuss options and begin the referral process.
“Finding pathways to assistance can be difficult for families who lack transportation, are juggling multiple jobs, or who are unaware of services and supports that they may be eligible for,” explained District 2 Legislator Nadia Rajsz, chair of the Sullivan County Legislature’s Health & Family Services Committee. “The goal of the Community Resource Center is to simplify the process of finding and receiving help with anything from parenting resources to emergency shelter.”
“A parent who visits the Community Resource Center would have the opportunity to meet with a caseworker, who would then be able to assess what support or resources may be helpful for that parent,” Health & Family Services Commissioner Joe Todora said. “Our caseworkers are very knowledgeable about the many programs available in this area and are able to connect families with resources that they may not even realize exist.”
The Community Resource Center will be open by appointment only on the first Monday of each month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the third Monday of each month from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Families with students currently enrolled in the MCSD may schedule an appointment by calling 845-796-3058, ext. 20119 and leaving a message.
“We are looking forward to the launch of this newest initiative,” Executive Director of Special,Summer and After-School Programs Dana Taylor said. “It’s a comfortable and safe space with greater access for our most vulnerable families.”
The partnership is the latest in a long list of the district’s initiatives to address the social and emotional wellness needs of its students. Since the implementation of the district’s holistic approach, graduation rates have increased, disciplinary referrals have decreased and the district recently received the “in good standing” designation from the New York State Department of Education.
“We believe that there is no insurmountable wall standing between a student and his or her academic success,” Superintendent of Schools Tammy Mangus said. “Hunger, poverty, lack of adequate shelter – these are all barriers to success. Students who are focused on worrying where their next meal is coming from aren’t able to focus on academic work. Fortunately, most barriers facing our students are breakable, especially when you are surrounded by like-minded organizations and agencies. When you remove these barriers, you reveal a pathway towards true, engaged learning. This is our philosophy, and we are relentless in pursuing new ways to address the needs of our students and families. Monticello Central School District has been dreaming of this opportunity for its families for several years. A heart-felt thanks goes out to the office of Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther for working diligently to help make this dream a reality.”