VPS hosted 366 hours of family engagement events in the 2017-18 school year. The purpose of these events was to increase connections with families in order to support our shared relationship with the student. Events like Muffins with Moms, Donuts with Dads, 1-2-3 Grow & Learn for parents and their children under the age of five, Literacy Nights, FAFSA and Fritters, and Science Nights are examples of ways to embed fun, interactive events while showcasing grade-level learning goals and opportunities.
In addition, FCRCs host family cooking classes, adult language classes, workforce development academies, and legal forums in response to emergent needs in our school neighborhoods. Topics are identified with help from our Parent-Family Leadership & Advisory group. The district’s objective is to build meaningful relationships with families and establish a partnership based on mutual respect, trust, and constant engagement.
VPS partners include public, nonprofit, faith-based, business, civic, and philanthropic organizations, which generously help address student needs with both financial resources and other support. Through grants, contracts, and non-monetary agreements, we are able to direct specialized resources like early learning, out-of-school time enrichment, mental and behavioral health care, transportation, and housing assistance programs to support VPS students at school, and in their school neighborhoods.
One of our longtime financial supporters is the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools. They have aligned their funding priorities to the district’s community schools.
Through school-based fresh food pantries supported by Share and Clark County Food Bank, we have distributed 100,000 pounds of fresh food and produce over the past year. Parents become an active part of the food distribution program, working alongside an FCRC coordinator to set up a “market” and making other families aware that they can access the pop-up pantry. School-based, pop-up food pantries have become an effective way to mobilize food resources where barriers to community-based food pantries exist, and in response to a crisis being experienced in a school neighborhood.
This increase occurred across middle and elementary schools as well. In 2010, the rate of students with good attendance (90 percent or more days of instruction) at elementary schools with FCRCs was 14 percentage points lower than at other district schools. In 2016, that gap had closed to 5 percentage points. In middle schools over the same period, the gap narrowed from 13 points to 7 points.
The percentage of students moving in/out during the year declined in FCRC schools from 24 percent in 2012 to 16 percent in 2017. We attribute that to families who highly value the programs and services offered through the FCRCs and work hard to stay in one place and continue to access them. When food insecurity and housing instability are reduced, families are more capable of addressing the health and education needs of the whole family, which lead to durable, population-level outcomes.