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Kentucky's FRYSCs

State-wide Community Schools:
Kentucky’s Family Resource and Youth Services Centers

This month we’re excited to have a guest newsletter feature from our colleague Doug Jones, Region 7 Program Manager for the Kentucky Family Resource and Youth Service Centers (FRYSCs). The FRYSCs were one of the earliest community schools models highlighted by the Coalition in our widely-viewed 2003 report, Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools. The FRYSCs take on additional significance as an increasing number of cross-sector leaders pursue a state-wide approach to community schools. Click below to read how Kentucky’s leaders have created over 800 community schools and sustained their work since the early 1990s.

The Kentucky Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSCs) were established as a component of the historic Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) of 1990. The mission of these school-based centers is to help alleviate barriers to academic success through consolidated planning. FRYSCs are strengthened by community and school partnerships. Vital programs and services promote early learning and successful transition to school through academic achievement and well-being with the ultimate goal for graduation and transition into adult life.

The Kentucky Department of Education Schools funds FRYSCs where at least 20 percent of a school’s student population is eligible for free and reduced school meals. Funds flow through the state’s Cabinet for Health and Families Division, which houses the FRYSCs, to the local school districts. In 2011, the state allotted $52.6 million for the FRYSCs which receive broad support across both political parties.

Although the Centers are funded based on the number of students receiving free lunch, they work with all students within their schools. During the 2013-14 school year 619,230 of Kentucky’s 675,530 students had access to FRYSC services. That’s 92% of the state’s students! There are currently 817 FRYSC School Centers organized into 11 regions. Regions have a program manager and is supported by Regional Advisory Councils.

Each FRYSC employs a full-time, year-round coordinator whose role is to serve as a broker for services. Depending on budgets, there are some centers that also have school-based support staff.

The foundation to a successful FRYSC program is the Advisory Council. Initially, an appointed Advisory Council participates in the planning stage of the new funding allocation process and hiring the coordinator. Once established, the Advisory Council provides input, guidance, and recommendations on the needs assessment process and the funding allocation request. They also assist with the planning, development, coordination, and oversight of program implementation and budget expenditures. The Advisory Council is comprised of parents (in fact, one-third of the council must be represented by parents), school staff, and community members. The FRYSCs based in middle or high schools also include two youth members in the Advisory Council.

The centers develop programming and activities based on legislated core and optional components with "action plans" designed based on local needs assessments of the school and community resources. Each center offers a unique blend of services and programs to serve the special needs of their students and families. FRYSCs serve students in middle and high schools and their families and coordinate referrals to health services, career exploration and development, summer and part time job development, substance abuse education and counseling and family crisis and mental health counseling. The FRYSCs also target parents and expectant families prior to enrolling in school. They coordinate services for pre-K and elementary school students with pre-school and after school child care, families in training, family literacy services and health services and referrals. Optional components are defined by local needs.

The Centers assure fidelity through a variety of tools and data sources utilizing both qualitative and quantitative outcomes. In a February 2014 public survey, 94.4% of participants (16,650 responded) agreed/strongly agreed and supported protection of funding for the programs to help strengthen and stabilize students and families. Ninety-three percent consider FRYSC a high priority program vital to students, to empowering families, and to helping improve schools. This support is in addition to a variety of positive measurable outcomes.

FRYSCs are also supported by the Family Resource and Youth Services Coalition of Kentucky (FRYSCKy), a non-profit organization of over 750 professionals including educators and human services providers. FRYSCKy provides legislative advocacy, training, and support for the FRYSC programs and their staff in Kentucky. FRYSCKy’s goal is to promote a network that removes barriers to academic success through peer learning, sharing resources, and collaborating more effectively on behalf of children and youth and their families. The FRYSCKy Coalition governing body consists of a 13-member Executive committee and a 16-person Executive Board representing the 11 regions across the state. Next year, the FRYSCs program will celebrate their 25 year anniversary!

For more information, please visit http://chfs.ky.gov/dfrcvs/frysc/aboutus.htm.  

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