Family Support Worker making a difference for Island families
It’s a Tuesday evening at Eliot River Elementary School and people are filing into a classroom. But it’s a group of parents, not students, taking seats at the desks.
They aren’t there for parent-teacher interviews, or a concert, or sporting event. They’ve come to chat with Sarah Fletcher, the Family Support Worker for the Bluefield family of schools.
She helps families build a bridge between their children’s lives at home and their experience in school.
“The goal is to create a collaborative relationship with parents and families, so that we can share the resources that kids benefit from in school and begin to implement some of those practical tools at home.”
Family Support Workers give presentations, run parent groups, and offer one-on-one meetings.
“I can meet caregivers at home, at my office, Tim’s, whatever they prefer,” explains Fletcher.
She says it’s all about making everyone feel comfortable.
“Parenting is hard. Any skills or insights that we can lend families to help their kids lead a more fulfilling life, helps everyone. There’s no judgement here.”
She explains that she can help weigh in on various challenges that families are trying to navigate.
“Some families may need help with their child’s behavior at home, encouraging attendance in school, coordination of transportation, or even taking some of the stress out of a hectic morning routine. Helping find solutions for even the small stuff can make a huge difference in their daily lives.”
The role is an extension of the Student Well-Being Team and began as a pilot this year. Students are referred to the service, and then the Family Support Worker connects with the student and family to assess needs and discuss options for best outcomes.
Terra Doucette is the principal at Eliot River School. She says she is thrilled with the addition of the Family Support Worker.
“We were very pleased to have the Family Support Worker join our Student Well Being Team. It's a piece that we feel truly supports building a bridge between home and school. The engagement at Eliot River for her services has been excellent.”
Fletcher is enjoying her new position.
“It’s very rewarding to see positive changes in students due to a better family dynamic. The flexible hours allow me to offer supports and resources at times that are convenient for families, which maximizes their potential for success.”
The two pilot positions are currently being developed in the Bluefield and the Montague family of schools. They also lend their support and resources to Student Well-being Teams Island wide.