FSCs offerings expanding
By Meg Olson
The Blaine family service centers expanding menu is reaching out to adults this year, with a growing list of classes, workshops and outreach programs geared to help kids by helping their parents.
We want to get an adult program going that will focus mainly on three areas: service to the English as a second language (ESL) community, fun things for families to do together and helping people with career development, said family service center coordinator Leaf Schumann. A lot of that will blend together.
Through the three-year 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant that will provide $810,000 for the school district to build on community activities, the family service center hasdeveloped new after school and summer programs for children. This year the center will add two new positions and get several new programs rolling that provide fun and learning opportunities parents and kids can share.
Schumann said the district is hiring a family projects coordinator that will work with parent teacher organizations to develop more after school family activities. We want to work with whats there and create what isnt, he said. Wed like to get regular programs going in the evenings for families to do together. One program now in development is a family reding program, through which parents and young readers share a reading lesson and get a free book to take home.
The new coordinator will also be developing open library nights at designated schools. Schumann said they will try and develop job search classes for parents that mesh with the open library nights.
We want people to be able to come here, take a class on interviewing and resumes and then be able to go into the library and access Washington job resources on the Internet while their child reads a book or plays with friends, he said. They are side by side with their child.
Alex Elizavetsky was recently hired to serve as a community outreach and ESL coordinator. He is working with the Russian immigrant community, providing translation services and helping them get access to resources.
We hope this will lead to job search services and strengthen the districts relationship with this segment of our community, Schumann said. Through the Whatcom Literacy Council, trained volunteers are providing one on one English tutoring for ten adults, and the program antricipates adding ten new students each year as volunteer tutors are available.
Through the Wednesday morning parents group, the service center has been bringing in experts on everything from finding work to solving family conflicts. Schumann said they plan to offer more special classes and staff and community workshops.
In Februry, two Thursday afternoon workshops will focus on kids with difficulty reading and mental illness issues for children and families. March worshops will address attention deficit disorder and alcohol risk. An class is also planned for June through Bellingahm Technical College on raising a spirited child.