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At Risk: Families and Students

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Doug Jones from Morehead, Kentucky is the Region 7 Program Manager forFamily Resource and Youth Services Centers and Public Policy for the FRYSCKy Coalition Board and long- time Prichard Committee member.

As the threat of subsequent budget cuts increases, so too does the number of Kentucky children that Family Resource and Youth Services Centers across the state work to reach.

The Kentucky Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSC) were established under the historic 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act with the mission to help academically at-risk students succeed in school by helping to minimize or eliminate non cognitive barriers to learning. Funding for the school based service centers is calculated based on free lunch numbers from the Kentucky Department of Education and implemented through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services contract with the local school districts. The centers work to alleviate barriers to student educational and family success for all students regardless of income.

The most recent numbers show there are 819 Family Resource and Youth Services Centers in 1,160 schools, serving 619,541 students throughout Kentucky.

The needs of Kentucky's families and students continue to grow. The resources that FRYSC have to meet those needs continue to shrink.

Because of recent economic pressures on the national, state, and local levels, the centers are doing more and more with less and less resources in their communities. FRYSC budgets have shrunk as well. For instance in Fiscal Year (FY) FY 08 Centers were receiving $210.00 per free lunch student with a total of 283,662 free lunch students. Each subsequent year due to reductions in state dollars combined with increases in the free lunch numbers the funding allocation had to be reduced. In 2012 there were 325,386 free lunch students configured for a total of $177.00 funding per free lunch student. For the current FY 13 the allocation was further reduced to an all- time low of $170.08 per student due to the increase in free lunch numbers.

In the past year alone, there were 3,846 more students eligible for free lunch meals. By all estimates the projections for the coming fiscal year unfortunately indicates the free lunch numbers will continue to grow even higher once the data is extracted from the December 1, 2013 count.

The ability for FRYSC to empower families and students has greatly diminished since 2008. Many Centers are understaffed and some have reduced days worked and hours per day due to the reductions. Many of the supports that help students succeed in school are no longer available because collaborative community partners have seen their budgets diminish as well. FRYSCs across the state have been a major catalyst for bringing community partners to the table and working together so resources and services are not duplicated.

Impact of Subsequent Yearly Budget Cuts

FY: Budget:

· 2009: $57.0 million

· 2010: $55.5 million

· 2011: $52.6 million

· 2012: $52.1 million

· 2013: $49,801,600 (Based on HB265)

· 2014: $49,801,600 (Based on HB265)

What is the value of these centers to the Bluegrass state? The Family Resource and Youth Services Centers Coalition of Kentucky invited advisory council members, community partners, parents, grandparents, students, board of education members, teachers, classified support staff, superintendents, administrators, and many other related stake holders to participate in the FRYSCKy Coalition Survey to assess the impact of the centers.

There was an overwhelming response with over 16,000 participants. 61.3% of respondents being teachers and classified support staff for the survey which lasted for only 4 days.

It's telling that so many of our survey participants identify themselves as teachers and classified support staff since they are working daily with our centers in the school environment.

The survey listed services or referrals provided by Family Resource and Youth Services Centers and indicated areas that were top priorities for Kentucky's youth and families to succeed according to respondents. It is evident based on this data that the work of FRYSC in the areas of family assistance, graduation/dropout prevention, health/wellness/nutrition, and family crisis intervention are keys to student success. Survey results indicated that 94.8% of all people surveyed agree and strongly agree that support and protection of FRYSC funding will help strengthen and stabilize students and families in our Commonwealth.

It's clear that Family Resource and Youth Services Centers are making a difference in the daily lives of children. Continued reductions in funding will have a significant impact on FRYSC and the programming offered in schools that so many people in this state rely on.

FRYSCs across the state credit their partnerships and acknowledge the strong impact of the programming is yielded from their community and school districts that support them in so many ways. The ongoing support by the devoted legislators who dreamed of this program and the current legislators who enthusiastically support it is greatly acknowledged and appreciated by Kentucky students, families, schools and communities. This model is widely recognized as the national standard of excellence for school-based social services and commonly referred to as 'the best part of KERA". Constituents from across the Commonwealth value the ongoing commitment and protection of the FRYSC program by their legislators.

As always FRYSCs will continue to do "whatever it takes." For over two decades it has been and will continue to be for the children.

For more information about FRYSC programs email [email protected].

If you would like more information about the impact of funding email: [email protected].

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