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Oregon Family Magazine

Community Resources for Back-to-School

08/29/2019 21:15 ● By Sandy Kauten
If you were to believe the bulk of advertising and messaging about the back-to-school
season, you’d be all about new clothes and backpacks stuffed with goodies. In reality, new clothes and trendy snacks are far from reach for many of our community’s students. Stable housing remains a challenge, and 53% are living in poverty that qualifies them for free or reduced meals. Academically, these factors are also closely linked to a student’s likelihood of missing enough school to put them at risk of graduating on time.

The State of Oregon’s focus on on-time graduation has intensified in recent years because high school graduation is one of the best ways to launch a child out of poverty and into a life of financial stability. In the past, the emphasis on graduation has been made at the high school level, and typically in the form of career counseling or one-to-one intervention. Now educators are paying close attention to the relationship between success early in school and graduation: Students who meet benchmarks early on are far more likely to succeed later. One does lead to another, but it’s not a matter of intelligence – it’s because they are in school learning every day.

Attendance helps students with math, reading and even social skills.So, what are the most common reasons children miss school? Food, clothing, and chronic dental or medical issues are obstacles for many. “By working on programs and systems to connect children with these basics, we are able to address some of the root causes of absenteeism,” explains Springfield School District Superintendent Todd Hamilton. “By addressing absenteeism, we are addressing graduation rates. By improving graduation rates, we’re addressing the trajectory of each child’s adult life.”

Locally school districts are working to help families access the services that are available to help with basic necessities – and to help inspire people to make use of the support. “We find that families may not know there are resources available to help, so we’re working to make it known that there is help, and to make it easier to find that help,” says Hamilton.

Support is generally organized geographically, so the best place to learn more is often via the district website:

• Bethel: www.bethel.k12.or.us

• Creswell: www.creswell.k12.or.us

• Eugene: www.4j.lane.edu

• Junction City: www.junctioncity.k12.or.us

• South Lane: www.slane.k12.or.us

• Springfield: www.springfield.k12.or.us

The Oregon Department of Education also provides many resources for families at every-day-matters.org.

“Every school district is focused on getting kids to school so they can learn,” says Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education. “School districts are experts at connecting families to resources. I encourage anyone to ask for help or check out the online resources. Starting September off with the basics is a promising way for a child to launch into a successful school year.”