Educators know from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that all children have three universal needs: to feel safe and secure, to feel loved and a sense of belonging, and to feel competent and capable. If children are hungry, if they don’t know where they’re going to sleep, or if their families face a crisis of any kind, their learning is at risk. If educators don’t recognize that reality in their schools and be proactive in their ability to respond, they cannot optimize growth in learning and student achievement.
The VPS community wants all students to graduate with choices in their career and life path and be able to navigate a rapidly changing, globally connected future. The district is committed to equipping every student with the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind they need to live a happy, healthy, economically stable life. If schools do not start by ensuring students’ most basic needs are met, those outcomes cannot be achieved.
From 2005 to 2015, the percentage of students qualifying for free/reduced-price meals nationwide rose from 39 percent to 53 percent. In some schools, more than 80 percent met this federal measure of poverty. Knowing that students experiencing poverty often face additional challenges outside of school, VPS invested FCRC support in schools with high concentrations of poverty-impacted families. VPS leaders and staff members realized that if FCRCs are to be effective, they must be responsive to the neighborhoods and communities they serve. Staff have sought input from parents and students regularly to determine priority needs, identify community assets, build partnerships, and provide resources.