Celina Rodriguez has been Director of Family Services at Prospect Family Residence since 2017 and was recently promoted to Assistant Administrator of Prospect Family Residence. In the lead up to the 2020-2021 school year, Rodriguez and her staff have been providing educational guidance, in addition to housing, employment, and social services, to families with children at Prospect.
How did the COVID-19 crisis impact the work of Family Services staff?
I think it became more important for the Case Managers to be involved in students’ education. When students were in a school building, they had counselors and teachers. However, when they transitioned to remote learning, families didn’t have that anymore. So, that was a lot for them.
How did your staff support families during the transition to remote learning?
Every week, Case Managers looked at school attendance records for kids at Prospect. If attendance was low, they reached out to parents. I want to keep doing that even if the kids go back—doing a weekly follow up in conjunction with the [McKinney-Vento homeless education] liaison.
A lot of parents were also having difficulty using the iPads distributed for remote learning. So, we were contacting IT and helping them through that.
How are families and staff feeling in the lead up to the new school year?
A lot of our clients don’t want to send their kids back—some are still nervous. Right now, they’re deciding how comfortable they feel. They’re having these conversations with Family Services staff. We’re experiencing a really big change and every day is something new. I feel like both families and staff have been doing well and adapting to it.