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Episode 71: Free Services for Families at the Jordan Family Education Center

If you ever feel like you need just a little extra support in your life or your child’s life, maybe it’s time to visit the Jordan Family Education Center.

The center, located inside River’s Edge School, provides support services, counseling and classes free of charge for families and students in Jordan School District.

On this episode of the Supercast, we find out what classes like “Blues Busters” or “Superhero Social Skills” can do for students and how families can benefit from the free short- term counseling offered by school psychologists and counselors.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Do you ever feel like you need a little extra support for your family or your child? If that's the case, maybe it's time to visit the Jordan Family Education Center. The Center located inside River's Edge School, provides support services, counseling and classes free of charge for families and students in Jordan School District. On this episode of the Supercast, we find out what classes like Blues Busters or Superhero Social Skills can do for students and how families can benefit from the free short-term counseling offered by school, psychologists and counselors. I'm here speaking with Fulvia Franco, Program Specialist at the District level who works with school psychologists and our elementary counselors and Sarah Robbins, the School Psychologist from Daybreak Elementary School to talk with me about the Jordan Family Education Center. Thanks to both of you for being here with me. Let's start with you Fulvia. Can you just give me a quick overview? What is Jordan Family Education Center?

Fulvia:
The best way is to explain the kind of services that we offer to families and children in the district, students in the district. First of all, we provide short-term child centered family counseling for families, and that's up to 10 weeks. There's no additional charge to families for participating in the services. We also have a variety of parenting classes that are offered three times a year during fall winter and spring quarter. Classes typically go for six weeks and they target a number of areas, including social skills. We have classes like Making and Keeping Friends, a class called Blues Busters for children who may be sad or worried. We have Effective Parent Training for parents who want ideas on parenting their children. We have classes for parents who might have a child with autism, and we have Anger Management Classes for elementary, middle school, high school and adults.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a great variety of classes. Now, Jordan Family Education Center, you go way back. Let's talk about when did the Jordan Family Education Center start?

Fulvia:
The Jordan Family Education Center was established by the district in 1979. They initially had a coordinator there for five years and then had person, an interim person. And now I've been the coordinator every since.

Anthony Godfrey:
Before we talk about classes specifically, let's talk a little bit more about the counseling that's available for families. Sarah, let's talk with you about how that counseling works. Can you tell me what are some examples of when a family might choose to participate in that and what they can expect if they sign up?

Sarah:
We have families that come to seek counseling services for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes the issues are a little more acute and have just come up and sometimes they're a little more long-term. Some examples of things we see students for are maybe adjusting to a new divorce or a new move. Maybe they're experiencing some anxiety or depression and the family's not really sure how to help them, and the student doesn't really know what to do. At the Family Education Center, we can provide a little more in-depth services than we have time for at school. It's more family centered to address their specific problem. What they can expect is, if they call our phone number, which is (801) 565-7442, they can ask to have an intake. And when they do an intake, they meet with one of our school psychologists and can talk to them about what's going on and get a little more information. The school psychologist will then meet with our staffing committee and help generate some recommendations for the family. Sometimes we refer them to a specific class that might meet their needs. Sometimes we refer them for short-term counseling and sometimes, depending on the nature of the problem, if it's bigger and more long-term, we can help them find community resources. We also partner with the Health and Wellness Department and we'll make referrals. They can help us access private providers if that's something that the family needs as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
And then private providers, for those listening that may not be aware, can be funded for a limited time through some funds that were made available from the State. So really the idea, it sounds like, is that when a family comes, they call that intake number and they ask for a consultation about their specific circumstance. There is a wide variety of resources available that they can be connected to. Maybe a class, maybe a counseling right there at the Jordan Family Education Center, maybe some outside counseling, and any of those could lead to another step, depending on how things go. So it's a great place to start and to get connected to lots of resources that families may not otherwise be aware of.

Sarah:
Yes. In fact, just last week I had a conversation with a parent who had come for her own child, and while she was there, she thought about a neighbor and the neighbor had been through a recent divorce. And some of her children who are school age were having some difficulty processing that it was a big move and a big change. And so she stayed after and came and talked to me for a while and said, where else can I send her? I have no idea. I've never done any of this before. And between me and two of our other staff members who happen to still be there, we were able to give her several ideas within the district and also within the community, including our own Health Services Department, because the family no longer has health insurance. So that was a place we could start to help them as well. We definitely partner with all the resources here in the district and in the community.

Fulvia:
We definitely partner with all the resources here in the district and in the community. One of the strengths of the program is that it is funded and staffed entirely by individuals who work for Jordan School District. As such, we're an extension of the local school. So when we do an intake assessment with a family, we're able to give them resources, not only through our center or the district, but perhaps through their school. If we identify a need for testing, we can use a Child Find Referral to make a referral to the Special Education team or develop a 504 at the school level. We send information to the school to let them know a family is accessing services through the Center and families are informed of that. So they agree to have the school be a partner in this. So we do partner together to be the most effective in providing all the services that a child or family might need.

Anthony Godfrey:
And that's a really important point. This is a network of support that's connected directly with the school. So it's not a one and done. This is ongoing support for lots of different issues and lots of struggles that students and families may be dealing with. And as a part of that, what I referenced earlier is that the list of classes is really quite remarkable. Superhero Social Skills for grades one through four, Anger Management that you referenced, Surviving the Death of a Loved One, Calming the Storm Within, Anger Management for adults. So there are really a lot of great classes that can help with issues that may pop up. What can someone expect if they sign up for one of these classes? What does that look like? How frequently do they meet, for what period of time, and how large are those classes? Just what are some of the details of what those classes would look like?

Fulvia:
So our classes, due to the pandemic, we're limiting size of classes to eight participants and two instructors. Many of our children's classes like Making and Keeping Friends and Blues Busters, we have quite a few parents who want to sign up. There's a parent class that goes along with the children's class, but they meet in a separate room. We've added additional instructors so that we can reach more children. And so we now have limited numbers for the participants, but when there aren't restrictions such as with COVID-19, then we can have up to 15 students in a class.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell us about the location of these classes. Where do folks go if they want to sign up online? What's the number again to call and then tell us about the location?

Sarah:
So the Jordan Family Education Center is located over at River's Edge School. inside the school. And if a parent or a family wanted to sign up for either an intake or for a class, or we actually even have a parent lending library over there with several parenting books, but they would just call to register. And the number is (801) 565-7442. We actually just started our second group of classes last week, and the classes run for six week. Each class is an hour and a half long. We have some classes that start at 6:00 PM and some classes that start at 7:00 PM and we'll be starting our third set of classes the week after spring break. So if there's something a parent is wanting to sign up for, but doesn't have time for right now, or maybe a second class they'd like to, they can take it again in the spring.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back, more on free services provided by the Jordan Family Education Center and how counselors and psychologists are supporting students and families in a multitude of ways during the day.

Break:
It is one of the most prestigious academic achievement programs available for high school students, and we're proud to say it's coming back to Jordan school District. We're talking about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, which will be located at West Jordan High School. The IB program supports the personal and academic achievement for students at the very highest level. IB diploma courses take place during a student's junior and senior year in high school. All sophomores are invited to consider the IB program for next year. There are no prerequisites for IB and interestingly, middle school students can start preparing. Now students with the IB diploma have a better chance at getting into some of the most prestigious universities in the world. In order to find out if your teen is a good candidate for IB. visit ib.jordandistrict.org, or call West Jordan High School.

Anthony Godfrey:
How has the pandemic impacted what you do? Are there some classes that have become more popular because of that? And what are some of the needs that you've seen arise out of that.

Sarah:
I have noticed some of our classes are more popular this year than they ever have been. In particular, the Blues Busters class has been very full every time. So Blues Busters is a class for kids who are either sad or worried. And this year we see a lot of anxiety in kids. Kids are worried about things that they never have been before, like earthquakes, for example. And we offer that class for elementary age, and then we have a second one for teenagers. That's taught by middle school and high school staff members. And then there's a third parent class that's taught at the same time. So that one has been very popular this year. We also have another one called Mindful Kids and it teaches kids relaxation strategies. And that class we have had to add a second session for students because it's been so popular because everybody needs to relax. That one's been really popular. And then Making and Keeping Friends is always a really popular class. We always have students who are struggling to make friends and it's a great place for them to learn. We started a new class just last year called Supporting Your Child with Autism. And we've had really good feedback for that class. That's for parents of children who might be somewhere on the autism spectrum, and we're able to help them have ideas of how to parent their child and also to link up with community resources.

Fulvia:
We've also been doing intake assessments in the family counseling. We've offered virtual counseling for those families who would prefer that. We've had very few families request that. In fact, we have had families that started that way, that said that their children did better in person. So we sanitize everywhere we can in between sessions and we've done our best to try to keep it safe. But families have let us know that they prefer to come and get the services in person.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's good to know those services are available. And these classes just seem made for some of the issues that have popped up during the pandemic. But as you said, it's been going since 1979, it's a really well-established program and carefully thought through, the curriculum and these classes. And when you've been doing it for 40 years, you get a knack for what student needs are and are responsive to those over time. I'm very proud of this program in Jordan District and how successful it is and the number of people that are helped. Are there misconceptions about the Jordan Family Education Center or questions that you get frequently? That you'd want to clear up?

Sarah:
The one thing that is unique is not everybody has time to attend a six week class. Most of our clients are parents with younger children and it's hard to get away. So we do offer a session called Timely Topics and that's on Thursday night and they are one session classes. So many of our instructors have other classes will come and do an abbreviated version so if a parent can't make it to a six week class, they can come for just one night and those cover a variety topics. For example, there's one for Co-Parenting through Divorce. There is one for Internet Safety. There's one for Coping with Depression and helping your children cope with depression. There's one called Video Gaming Addiction that went really well last quarter that has probably become a bigger issue during the pandemic. We also have one called Study Skills and it's for supporting your teenager. That is also a popular class because most parents can come for one night. And ultimately our goal is to help kids to be successful in school. We want them to go to school. We want them to be able to focus while they're there. We want them to graduate all of our classes and the counseling services are designed to support the family in helping their child navigate the school and be able to finish.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's an extraordinary program. And I love the focus on students and families because families really are part of helping support students through difficult times and are an important element of student success in school. Tell us again, the phone number and the website and how we get signed up.

Fulvia:
The phone number (801) 565-7442. We're available from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Monday and 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday,  and Thursday. More information about our classes or services can be found right on the Jordan District website in the Guidance Department, which is in Student Services. So the website is guidance.jordandistrict.org/jfec. And the address of River's Edge School is 319 West 11000 South in South Jordan.

Anthony Godfrey:
Great. Well thank you for spending the time. I know you're both very busy.

Fulvia:
Thank you for your support as well. Thank you for having us.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see out there.

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