A Place for Families: Healthy Start Family Centers
Located at five Pasadena Unified (PUSD) schools, Healthy Start Family Centers are at the front line of helping district students and their families navigate their way to resources and services that help children thrive.
“Our goal is to improve school performance by ensuring that children are healthy in mind, body and spirit so that they can come to school ready to learn,” says Ann Rector, Director of Health Programs. “With the support and partnership of community organizations and agencies, we assist, care for, and support families in ways that help them overcome barriers and achieve academic goals for their children.”
Rector oversees the five centers which are located at Cleveland Elementary, Jackson Elementary, Madison Elementary, Eliot Middle School, and Rose City Continuation High School. Each center is staffed by a coordinator, case manager, and others. Teams at each center connect students and families with a multitude of resources available through community organizations and agencies, including health and mental health services, classes for parents, assistance for basic needs, and academic services for students.
Read more about PUSD’s holistic approach to learning
Healthy Start Centers deliver critical services including those of school nurses, coordinators, case managers, and — in collaboration with community partners such as Young & Healthy and PUSD’s Mental Health Consortium — access to wide array of medical, mental health and social services and assistance with basic needs.
The services of Healthy Start centers have been expanded to 13 schools this year through the PUSD Northwest Community Schools project, an expansion designed to support the needs of more children and families living in Northwest Pasadena with intentional, enhanced, and caring social, emotional, and health experiences in schools. The project serves low-income families who face challenges of poverty, language barriers, poor nutrition, lack of insurance, and blighted neighborhoods, and are most in need of additional support systems.
“Home is connected to school, which is connected to learning,” says Pattie Lacey, who coordinates the Healthy Start Family Center at Jackson Elementary. “Here at school, we work with students and their families to connect them to services. Healthy Start Centers are places where students and families know they can go on campus when they are feeling sad, need help or have something to celebrate. We listen to what the child and family need, and together determine what we all have to do to make sure the student succeeds.”
Funded by a $100,000 two-year grant from the City of Pasadena’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the PUSD Northwest Community Schools Project implements a community schools framework in 13 schools that serve district students and families within the CDBG service area.
The community schools framework uses schools as central hubs so that children, youth and their families can access the opportunities, supports, and services from their own campus. Community schools offer essential health and social supports and services, and engage families and communities as assets in the lives of their children. Community schools have a climate and culture that enable students to develop cognitive, social, emotional, physical, civic, and ethical competencies and the capacity to thrive in college, career, and life and as participants in our democracy.
The Northwest Community Schools Project strengthens the systems of care for children and their families in the 13 district schools. Community schools staff teams are trained at each site to be the front line for helping students and families navigate their way to the most appropriate care. If the student needs more targeted assistance, they are referred to one of the five Healthy Start Family Centers to work with a case manager.
Healthy Start Family Centers work together with school nurses and the district’s health clinic to keep students healthy and prevent school absences. District nurses provide immunizations, physical examinations, treatment, medications, and referrals to medical professionals as needed. Center staff also supports parents with workshops to help families strengthen home structures that support children’s academic achievement, and work with school personnel and social service agencies to address any barriers that parents experience in accessing help.
“We’re here to help the whole child,” says Lacey. “Whether they need medical, academic help, we are here to assist.”
PUSD Northwest Community Schools Project campuses
Altadena Elementary School
Eliot Middle School
John Muir High School
Washington Middle School
Rose City Continuation High School
For more information on PUSD’s Healthy Start Family Centers, visit www.gopusd.com/health