By ALIYAH MOHAMMED | firstname.lastname@example.org
A ribbon cutting was held for Milpitas’ second family resource center at Robert Randall Elementary School on Monday. The new site is expected to provide literacy, health and parenting support to low-income families starting in January.
The two-sided portable, with a children’s and adult’s area, is located at the back of the Randall campus at 1300 Edsel Drive and is meant to serve the attendance area encompassing Randall and Alexander Rose elementary schools and the district office — a residential area deemed to have the lowest median income families in the city.
When it opens next year, the new center will provide free programs including developmental screenings, referrals to preventative and remedial services, parent education, oral health, nutrition programs and engagement activities for parents and children.
After Monday’s opening, Randall Principal Carlos Salcido said that compared to other campuses Randall and Rose have the most need for literacy support.
“The achievement gap starts off as an opportunity gap,” Salcido said, adding the center provides low-income families access to opportunities they might not get otherwise. “So the achievement gap we see in schools is really a result of the opportunity gap we see at a very young age. So, hopefully with the family resource center we will start to close that opportunity gap.”
He asserted students from lower income homes hear 30 million less words than students from higher-income families.
“And part of that is reading to kids, with the number of books they have read to them, how families from higher income speak with their children … the only way to reverse that is to engage with parents and talk to them about how to read to their children especially if they are not completely literate themselves,” Salcido said.
He added that another thing that needs to happen was changing a mindset that says parents should not read to their children in their home language. Salcido said research shows reading to children in their home language actually benefits them long term.
The resource center is a new tool in the district’s arsenal to create what Superintendent Cheryl Jordan calls a “culture of we.” This involves, according to Jordan, having the entire community, including families, businesses and everyday Milpitas residents taking an active role in ensuring students’ success.
On Aug. 23, the Milpitas Unified Board of Education unanimously approved $190,000 to create the resource center at Randall in conjunction with The Health Trust, a San Jose-based foundation that works to improve healthy living in Silicon Valley. That 20-year agency was also a partner for the first resource center that opened here in 2014 at the Sunnyhills United Methodist Church campus.
At the board meeting, Keith Morales, The Health Trust program manager, told the panel that 70 percent of the families living in this area will qualify for the services provided at the new family resource center. He added the center will allow the district to have kids ready from day one for school versus a career of playing catch up.
“We are trying to alleviate issues before they get into the school system,” Morales told the board.
On Monday, Morales said the goal was to establish the needs of the families “we are trying to serve and engage our community around non-intrusive, very, very non-judgmental based programs that could start off with a soccer club. We love that we are close to the soccer field.”
He added the center aims to “strengthen the family unit” with its various programs and services.
As part of a formal agreement between The Health Trust and the school district, the district will provide the facilities and The Health Trust will handle programming and services.
In addition, the one-time cost of creating the center in a portable building located along South Park Victoria Drive in the southwest corner of the Randall campus, is approximately $281,000 plus monthly Pacific Gas & Electric Co. expenses. That amount is offset by a $35,000 donation for start-up costs from the Summer Hill Apartment Communities, which will be used for furniture, computers and supplies, district staff said.