Press release from Buncombe County Schools:
Children First/Communities In Schools (CIS) of Buncombe County was recently awarded $80,500 under the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) Competitive Grant Program to assist the work of its agency’s Student Support Specialists in three Buncombe County schools: Emma Elementary, Johnston Elementary, and Eblen Intermediate.
“The global pandemic has impacted families in our community in so many ways,” said Natasha Adwaters, Executive Director of Children First/CIS. “This grant represents an opportunity for us to strengthen our ability to provide much-needed services to students facing technology gaps, the emotional stressors of a disrupted school schedule, financial hardships, and other educational roadblocks and inequities that have been compounded by the pandemic.”
The N.C. General Assembly appropriated a portion of the State’s Coronavirus Relief Funds to The N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) for the purpose of administering the ELISS Grant Program. The purpose of the program is to fund extended learning and integrated student support service programs for at-risk students whose learning has been negatively affected by COVID-19. Children First/CIS is the only organization in Western North Carolina that received funding through ELISS in 2020.
“I’m so grateful for Children First,” said Brendi Williams, Eblen Intermediate parent. “This group has helped my son and so many other kids in our community with self-esteem, character, and resilience. They really deserve this grant because they assist families in so many ways, with so many programs. Without them, many families would not have access to the resources they need to thrive.”
Children First’s mission is to empower children and their families to reach their full potential through advocacy, education, and services. The mission of Communities In Schools is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Children First/CIS has been working in Buncombe County to address social and economic injustices through education, advocacy, and direct services for over 40 years.
“Children First/CIS addresses the challenges to academic achievement that children not born to privilege experience, including food insecurity, transportation barriers, and lack of access to school supplies,” Ms. Adwaters said. “Following the national CIS evidence-based model, we place Student Support Specialists in five area schools serving grades K-6 to support students with goals related to Attendance, Behavior, Coursework and Parent Engagement or as we like to say ‘ABC+P!’”
In collaboration with school staff, Student Support Specialists develop goals for the school as a whole and work individually with 5-10 percent of students in each school. In addition to CIS model implementation, Children First/CIS provides afterschool and summer enrichment within the Deaverview, Pisgah View, and Woodridge communities.