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Supporting A Youth, Also Means Supporting The Family

February 16, 2021

Edgar had been attending Casa Pacifica’s Nonpublic (NPS) School since January 2020. Our fully-accredited Nonpublic School serves about 120 students each year, grades 1-12. These students come from all over the county as day students and attend classes alongside a few students who live on our Camarillo campus.  The exceptionally low student to teacher ratio (about 4:1) gives students the time and attention to grow not only educationally but socially and emotionally as well.

Edgar came to NPS after experiencing several adverse family situations (grief, loss, separation, neighborhood safety concerns, etc.) which had made learning difficult for him and he struggled with social skills. After a few weeks attending his new school, Edgar was showing slow improvement and began to build relationships with peers and staff on campus.

Then the pandemic hit.

Along with students from across the county, Edgar was forced to shift to an online learning module, attending school from home where he lived with his grandmother. From the beginning, it was a struggle. Edgar found it difficult to focus and engage in distance learning and began missing classes regularly.

Edgar’s family became overwhelmed and struggled to find appropriate resources for him. While they had been referred for outside support, the ability to attend appointments, especially during a pandemic, was too much. When asked why the family was not taking advantage of services and why Edgar was missing school, his grandmother became guarded, defensive and resistant, feeling like she was being blamed for the problems in the home.

Our NPS staff set up an IEP meeting to address his unique needs and develop a plan for how Edgar and his family could best be supported. Edgar’s family was connected to Casa Pacifica’s health clinic for help with his medications and clinical services were implemented in the home setting. While following all COVID-19 safety precautions, Casa Pacifica clinician Allyson Bell and NPS staff members began to visit the home to help Edgar’s grandmother connect to online support meetings and communicate with the school district. They also helped the family with technical issues so Edgar could have access to his online classes and NPS staff.

“The point when we really saw a change was when we told Edgar’s grandmother, it’s ok. It’s ok that there are problems. We’re here to help, we’re not here to judge.” – Allyson Bell

Walking Edgar’s grandmother through the steps, teaching her so she didn’t have to rely on someone else was the turning point. Continual check-ins and finally addressing technical issues have made all the difference.

The family is now communicating with the school district which is a big win. Edgar has begun to engage, and his family finally feels like they can support him and his academics. Edgar’s grandmother has expressed that she finally feels heard and understood. She feels so much joy knowing that Edgar’s behaviors are improving, and he is beginning to have more positive interactions with family members. Edgar continues to meet weekly for his clinical services and has begun to complete academic assignments.

Our NPS staff continually go above and beyond for their students – during the pandemic, “above and beyond” has looked a little different than normal.
- Our music teacher, Tom Ball meeting a student in the park for an outdoor and distanced guitar lesson
- Staff driving from Carpinteria to Santa Clarita to deliver homework weekly
- Weekly wellness calls to families making sure they had everything they need
- A student’s only parent got COVID-19 and staff drove them groceries during the time they had to be quarantined at home
- Staff organized “drive-bys” to celebrate student’s accomplishments like graduation
- Staff hosted virtual “parties” to celebrate the holidays, big and small, with their students

Without our dedicated staff, we wouldn’t be able to make a positive and life-changing impact in the lives of the children and families we serve. We meet them where they are – in their homes, community, and schools - as they face some of the most challenging circumstances, restoring hope for a brighter future.