In 2017, with support from Montgomery County Human Services, we launched a pilot program called “Families Forward” at Kiser Elementary in North Dayton. The goal is to provide parents with resources and goal-setting supports that will result in more stable home environments, greater stability in school enrollment and attendance, and improved educational outcomes.
All families at Kiser are invited to participate in the program through family engagement events. Each event features a family-centered activity and a healthy meal provided by The House of Bread. Families are encouraged to continue supporting and engaging in their children’s education, and are offered services if they have specific needs.
A full-time Family Advocate engages with parents as they work toward goals for their families and helps them decrease the obstacles that can get in their way. When needed, she also helps them learn about and gain access to community resources like food and clothing pantries and utility assistance programs. She is available to assist with developing a household budget, and can work with them to complete public benefit applications.
Kiser Elementary was chosen for the pilot because the students and families there are diverse, with over 40% of its approximately 560 students coming from immigrant or refugee families and 33% being English Language Learners. This diversity presents an opportunity for CSSMV to help families who are still adjusting to life in the United States.
A program collaborator, the University of Dayton’s Empowering Children with Hope and Opportunity (ECHO), expands the project reach by offering similar supportive services at four urban Catholic schools in Dayton.
The health and safety of our clients, staff and volunteers are of paramount importance to us. Our Choice Food Pantry in Dayton is open during normal hours, but in order to reduce person-to-person contact as much as possible, we are providing prepackaged boxes of food instead of operating under our normal “choice” model.
Catholic Social Services’ Choice Food Pantry is one of the busiest pantries in Montgomery County, serving residents of neighborhoods in west and northwest Dayton with especially high rates of poverty, unemployment and underemployment.
While many food pantries are only open once or twice a week, we are open Monday through Friday mornings to meet the needs of our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. (The only exceptions are major holidays and the first Friday of each month.)
Pantry clients include the working poor, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. Clients can also access the services of a case manager who can provide information and linkages to other necessary social service programs, and can also provide one-on-one case management through our Family Stabilization & Support program.