More than 33,000 Kentucky students and their families will now have access to assistance for concerns ranging from school supplies to mental health counseling. State and local leaders were at Moss Middle School in Warren County on Jan. 14 to announce the opening of 28 new Family Resource Centers across the state.
Melissa Goins is the director for the Division of Family Resource and Youth Service Centers. That’s part of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Goins said the $8 milion grant is a breakthrough in funding.
“Our Family Resource Youth Service Centers are funded all from state dollars so this is the first year in a long time, in about 10 years that we’ve been able to expand our centers,” said Goins. “We haven’t opened any new ones in about 10 years, so this is really big deal.”
Many centers send home bags of food on Friday. They also help with shoes, clothing and social services like connecting families impacted by the opioid crisis connect to counseling or drug treatment programs.
Warren County is getting four new Family Resource Centers. They’re at Jennings Creek and Rockfield Elementary schools, Greenwood High School, and a combined center at South Warren Middle and High Schools.
Lynn Vincent director of the existing Youth Service Center at Moss Middle School, a job she’s had for 19 years.
“This classroom, my office, is a welcoming room. We have food. We have snacks. We have clothing. Hygiene items,” said Vincent. “Anything that the kids need during school so they won’t have to leave the school, they can come in here and get it and they feel comfortable.”
Glasgow and Marshall County high schools are also getting new Family Resource Centers.
Tim Feeley is deputy secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. He said even with Kentucky’s tough budget situation, the effectiveness of the program at nearly 900 schools convinced lawmakers to approve $ 8 million for the new centers.
“It’s a very tough climate, there’s no question about that. But the “friskies” are such an important program. They bring the children and the education in with social services,” said Feeley. “It’s such an important thing for taking care of our children. Legislators recognized that and gave some extra money.”