Addressing Our Families’ Most Urgent Needs
Families in Somerville rely on the Somerville Public Schools not just to educate their children, but also to connect them to crucial services. When schools shut down in March 2020, the dedicated Somerville Family Learning Collaborative multilingual team created a system of delivery of services to meet the most urgent needs of Somerville families.
The Somerville Family Learning Collaborative (SFLC) is the family engagement department of Somerville Public Schools. Their deep-rooted relationships within the Somerville community became a critical pathway to quickly reaching and supporting hundreds of families from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. These relationships and the trust they generated, particularly among immigrant families, were developed over the course of years. Already having these connections in place meant that the schools and city learned directly from families about critical needs. In the words of SFLC Director Nomi Davidson, “whenever a need was expressed, we would mobilize.” SFLC team members collaborated with other SPS and City of Somerville departments and staff, non-profit partners, and volunteers, to find solutions for families’ needs. And staff members worked long hours to do it. The multilingual SFLC staff’s diversity is their strongest asset in responding to the crisis as they continue to be the go-to resource for families in need of support and additional resources.
SFLC staff has helped families with language barriers fill out applications for aid, rental assistance, and economic relief. They have helped families enroll their children in school. Communicating local food and clothing resources to families has also been part of their work, and the SFLC has partnered to provide material supports, like diapers, toys, and books for families with young children. These efforts were happening while the SFLC also continued services like developmental screenings and playgroups.
Somerville Family Learning Collaborative assembled a compelling collection of data about the types of work that has been done to reach families and students. You can read this data in the SFLC COVID-19 Response Data Report pamphlet. It includes how local agencies, community partners, and businesses have all come together to keep Somerville families safe and healthy.
R. Ronen, Communications Specialist