A Day in the Life of a Family AdvocatePosted June 27, 2018
Welcome to the fourth in our series of “A Day in the Life” photo journals documenting the workdays of our staff and the people we serve.
Rachel Lassiter- Family Advocate
Lansingburgh Family Resource Center
Rachel and her son arrive at the Lansingburgh FRC. She drops her son off in one of the pre-school classrooms, and then stops by classrooms to see if she has any paperwork waiting for her, or families waiting with questions or needs.
As a Family Advocate, Rachel forms relationships with the families of children in the Early Childhood Services programs and helps them set goals, get referrals internally and externally, and more. While the needs can vary greatly by family, Rachel notes, “a goal could be anything from getting a child to school every day, to buying a house, or going back to school.” Family Advocates like Rachel help with the paperwork for referrals, go to meetings or appointments with the family, and can even help with transportation. “We give them the tools to be self-sufficient,” says Rachel.
At her desk, Rachel has a note left from a parent who is having a hard time with transportation. Rachel reaches out to the parent to arrange for her to receive some bus passes and to discuss a long-term solution. Resources like the Price Chopper Advantage Bus Points system might be able to help.
The Family Advocate Center at the Lansingburgh FRC is shared by two other Family Advocates, Jasmine & Bernard who are doing similar work. The three advocates split the center. Rachel has been working in the Lansingburgh FRC as a Family Advocate since 2012.
A parent comes in with housing needs. Rachel helps them search through Craigslist to try to find housing in their price range that will meet their needs. Eviction is a big issue within the community Rachel serves, and the number one reason for homelessness that Rachel sees. She pulls up numbers so the family can call about listings.
Rachel and the other Family Advocates are conducting daily attendance calls. The Lansingburgh program assistant generates a list of absences after a certain point in the morning. The Family Advocates call those parents/guardians they have relationships with. Today Rachel only had 5 absences, other days there might be 15. Some students might be ill, while others have appointments.
During intake, Family Advocates help go through all the information with parents/guardians, and make sure they get all the forms and information they need, so FAs are the first contact with a center for most of the families in CEO’s Early Childhood Programs. This helps Rachel, and the other FAs form a relationship early on.
Today Rachel has a Committee for Preschool Special Ed meeting at the Lansingburgh School District on 115th Street. It’s just a short commute from the FRC, and the meeting itself is over within the 30 minutes. Sometimes a family member may attend, but today it was just Rachel discussing annual reviews, summer services, and services for the fall for a specific student.
Back at the Lansingburgh FRC, Rachel takes her lunch break.
The Lansingburgh FRC is hosting a parent meeting today. These happen about once a month, and today’s topic is “Kindergarten Readiness” presented by the UPK teachers. Six parents attend the event in the gross motor room, and the Family Advocates do as well. Other months the focus might be on a Fatherhood Initiative activity, or another topic the Family Advocates present.
Since it’s the end of the year, there is a lot of work to do to help families get registration packets processed for children entering kindergarten. Rachel spends some time working on that, and on closing out files for the year.
A family came in last week looking for a list of summer camps in the area, so Rachel spends some time researching options for the family. She looks at the YMCA, and the Boys & Girls Club of Lansingburgh for options that will meet their needs.
The three Family Advocates meet to put together a schedule for fall enrollment. With all of the Pre-K students graduating from the Lansingburgh FRC, there will be lots of spots to fill this fall!
Rachel also works on a master close-out list that has a list of all the kids that are moving on and whose files can be archived.
Rachel picks up her son & heads home to Schenectady.
What do you like most about being a Family Advocate?
“I like seeing families achieve a goal, or seeing a family thrive from a referral; especially a family that needs food getting connected with our Food Pantry, and finding the help they need. It feels good to make those connections happen. I’ve worked with a mother who was sixteen when she started sending her infant here. During the time I’ve worked with her, she’s graduated from high school, and is working towards being a manager in her current position. Seeing that kind of progression is the best part. “
What would you want the community to know about Family Advocates?
“I hope that most families know that we’re here to help, but if not, I want to emphasize that we’re available to the families to assist them. Family Advocates are here to help and to offer tools for self-sufficiency.”