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PCLS Family Resource Center

Listing Last Update: October 29, 2018

Primary Contact

Amber Torres

(440) 392-5548

amber.torres@pcls.net

Educational services

  • To read and write better
  • To find a family literacy program
  • To help my child learn
  • To learn English

Instruction Type

  • Classroom
  • Family literacy program
  • Instruction in Spanish

Program Overview

The PCLS Family Resource Center has been created to provide solutions and interventions to improve social, economic, behavioral and mental well being of our families.

The purpose of the center is to provide a central and convenient point of contact for all Painesville City School families
to access multiple services to minimize barriers to student academic success. A variety of programs have been created to improve literacy including an Adult English as a Second Language Class, Parenting Partners Class and Children and Parents Literacy class.

Mission Statement

A DISTRICT FAMILY HELP CENTER

The district Family Resource Center has been created to provide solutions and interventions to improve social, economic, behavioral and mental well being of our families. The center is located at Elm Street Elementary school (585 Elm Street) and is available for all district families. Word of the Center is spreading quickly and Center Coordinator, Amber Torres, is busy scheduling family appointments each day helping PCLS families deal with a variety of issues.


The purpose of the center is to provide a central and convenient point of contact for all Painesville City School families to access multiple services to minimize barriers to student academic success. Such services include solutions and interventions to improve social, economic, behavioral and mental well being of our families.

WHY OPEN A FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER?
It is understood that a basic level of overall wellness is necessary for children to engage and benefit from academic tasks. Among the barriers that hinder a child's ability to learn are;
Physical health (i.e., hunger and poor nutrition)
Mental health (i.e., depression and anxiety)
Exposure to trauma
Negative peer influences
Alcohol, tobacco, and/or drug use
Difficulties with concentration/attention
Behavioral barriers
Social-emotional barriers

The district has found that, while many agencies and services in Lake County exist to help families deal with the above array of problems, they are not always readily accessible to the families that need them. Awareness, language, and transportation are common barriers to connecting with needed services. The Family Resource Center was created to provide a solution to those barriers.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Amber Torres is the full time bilingual Site Coordinator at the Center who networks on behalf of our students and families. Working with school staff, Amber identifies students at risk of under-performance and assess the student/family needs. She then calls in the appropriate community organizations, social service agencies and healthcare providers and facilitates the delivery of services and resources for success both inside and outside of the classroom. Students and families have access to the resources brought in to the school setting, where they are accessible, coordinated, and accountable.


While the program seeks to target students who are most at-risk (those who demonstrate consistent deficiencies in math/reading proficiency, and/or who exhibit continuous truancy and/or behavioral referrals), our resource center and site coordinator are available to all of our district students and families.

WHERE IS THE CENTER?
The Family Resource Center is housed at Elm Street Elementary School. It provides a comfortable, safe space and a trusted individual that families can access whenever they want or need to, in a place where they feel welcomed and understood.

Families can contact Amber Torres at 440-392-5548 to schedule appointments. She is bilingual and available to help families of all cultures and origins.

Hours of operation: 8 AM to 4:00

Student and Volunteer Success Stories

Being the Coordinator for the Family Resource Center in Painesville City Local Schools is truly a great privilege. I am able to work with wonderful families, dedicated school staff, and passionate volunteers and members of our surrounding community to make a difference in our students' lives. One of the families that has particularly been positively impacted by the Family Resource Center is the Ramirez family.



Mrs. Ramirez has actively participated in the Center's English as a Second Language adult literacy program since January 2015. Prior to coming to the Center, she had never taken an English class. She was extremely nervous about learning a second language. She told me that she was tired of not knowing enough English to communicate for herself. She no longer wanted to rely on her husband and kids to translate for her when interacting with native English speakers.



I could tell that Mrs. Ramirez was looking for a place to belong. She would come early to class to ask me questions about motherhood, Tupperware, the way the school operates, how to write a personal check, or anything else that she needed help with. At first, I thought her questions were strange. But, when I really thought about why she would reach out to me with these questions, I realized it was because she felt like she belonged here at the Center. And I was a safe person who she could come to for help.



Throughout her time in class, she expressed to me that she wanted her children to be proud of her. She was only able to study in school in Mexico until the ninth grade. She had dreams of going on to study business and cosmetology to become an owner of her own hair salon, but she got married young and immigrated to the United States before finishing her education. She eventually got a job at los avioncitos, a local airplane factory where many of our Latino parents work. Mrs. Ramirez eventually quit her job there to be able to stay at home with her three kids. By seeing her come to the school twice per week for her own English class, she told me that she wants her kids to know that even though learning something new may be difficult, all the hard work and effort is worth it when you can learn for yourself and find your own voice.



Just like Mrs. Ramirez, countless other parents in our English classes have told me stories about how they have felt lost and isolated without knowing English. Some of the students have risked their lives at the chance of a better life and future for their children here in the States. Many Latino parents share stories of how they are easily taken advantage of in their workplace because they cannot speak up for themselves. Some have been mocked and have been treated as less than human simply because of the way they look and the way they speak. It broke my heart to hear their stories of feeling alone, ashamed, scared, unwelcome, and unsure of who to trust or who to turn to for help. I knew that the Family Resource Center had the potential to be a catalyst of change and to bring people together in our school and broader community.



There has not only been a need for some of our school parents to learn English, there has also been a need for them to feel safe and welcome in our schools. Parents need to feel accepted, loved, and appreciated for being a positive and essential part of our school community. An adult English as a Second Language program along with bilingual after school programs for children was the best way we could to reach out and engage these at-risk families. We also grew and expanded our Parenting Partners and Parent Book Club programs to include both English and Spanish speakers, thanks to the Dollar General Grant. Our Latino families are woven into our community's diverse tapestry. The strengths they bring to our community makes Painesville City Local Schools a great place to learn and grow. Programs at the Center have allowed us to include others like the Ramirez family and learn together as a diverse community.



Not only did Mrs. Ramirez participate in English classes, she has also been bringing her youngest son to our Growing Readers Storytime program for the last year. At first, her three year old son would refuse to participate in Storytime. He had a very hard time playing with others and socializing in appropriate ways. She also said that she is very concerned with some of his behaviors at home. Parenting this little one has been a unique challenge that Mrs. Ramirez did not experience with her other two elementary aged kids. However, Mrs. Ramirez has gained confidence that the Center and school district staff are trustworthy and that they will support her and help her find ways to get her little one ready for school.



Mrs. Ramirez has actively worked with me, the Site Coordinator, other school staff, and other community partners to get her son early intervention services even before he begins preschool. Even though her son has had a challenging time at Storytime, Mrs. Ramirez is actively seeking ways to support him. She enrolled in our Parenting Partners classes this past March, and she told me that she is so excited to learn and share with other parents in the workshops. She said, "I know that my son and other two kids are having fun and learning in the other programs. Parenting Partners gives me time to find support from the other moms, learn new ideas I had never thought to try at home, and give me the skills I need to be a better mom."



I have seen Mrs. Ramirez blossom into a more engaged parent and feel more confident to try new things that she would have been scared to try before. She even applied for and received a scholarship for her family to become members of our local YMCA. The membership director of the Y frequently visits the Center to meet with school families and prospective Y members since they are one of the Center's Community Partners. The membership director met with Mrs. Ramirez a couple years ago to get them signed up. I encouraged Mrs. Ramirez to join the Y because I knew it would open the door for her children to socialize more and for her family to be healthier overall. The Ramirez kids are now involved with swimming lessons and sports teams at the Y as well as the other children's programs that the Y offers through the Center.



Mrs. Ramirez told me last week that she has been very excited to take a beginner swimming class for adults this session. She has always been afraid to take her kids to the beach or outdoor pool because she does not know how to swim. But, she said that she is challenging herself to try new things and learn about fun ways she can spend time with her kids. She gathered a group of other moms from the school to take the class together at the Y and support each other to learn a new, healthy activity together. They may even take a water aerobics class together while the kids are all in school next year.



Last summer, Mrs. Ramirez's husband was diagnosed with cancer. This has been another hurdle that their family has worked to overcome together. Mr. Ramirez went through chemotherapy treatments during the summer until the holiday season. The family lost their main source of income, as their father was the only one working in the home. They all felt very scared about the unknown factors surrounding Mr. Ramirez's health. The Center was able to support the family by providing the elementary school aged children with extra school uniforms from our Raider Rack program. We were also able to continue stocking the family's home library with bilingual children's books so that they could read together as a family since Mrs. Ramirez brought her son to the Growing Readers Program.



With Mrs. Ramirez's permission, I shared their family's situation with one of our Community Partners, the home church of two of Mrs. Ramirez's volunteer English as a Second Language teachers. The church was able to donate groceries and a meal for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas presents for all three children and both parents so that they were not financially stressed during the holidays. We also connected the family with counseling services so that both the kids and parents could work through managing their complex emotions and cope with the situation.



Mrs. Ramirez said that she was overwhelmed that others in our community were willing to hear her family's needs and respond in loving, tangible ways to ease the stress of her husband's struggle. Thankfully, we found out that Mr. Ramirez's cancer is currently in remission; but, he is working in physical therapy to regain his strength so that he can go back to work. The Center continues to work with the Ramirez family to evaluate the family's ongoing needs and to ensure that they feel supported by the school community. Mrs. Ramirez stated, "The whole situation with my husband's health was so stressful. But, I was so relieved that we practiced going to the doctor's office and health terms in our English class last year. Being familiar with the terminology and feeling more prepared to go with my husband to the doctors helped me understand and communicate better even in such a stressful situation." The Family Resource Center's programs truly have had a positive impact on the Ramirez family to overcome obstacles and grow.



The Dollar General grant funds enables the Resource Center to be able to help school families like the Ramirezes. We were able to purchase books and curriculum, train volunteers and school staff, and purchase other materials to be able to offer beneficial educational programs that not only teach parents and children skills that they need to succeed; but, they also boost family engagement, parent involvement, and academic success. The Family Resource Center, Painesville City Local Schools, and our families are genuinely appreciative of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for making our program's success stories possible. Thank you!

Program Status:
Active