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Services expanding for families, students

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Parent and Family Resource Centers will open in the former regional offices. The eight centers will provide parents with help related to registration, enrollment, and student placement; transfers/withdrawals; special education, early childhood, and English language learner programs and supports; re-engagement with school for dropouts; transportation; and social service interventions.

Centers will be located in the former North (215-456-0998), Northeast (215-281-5903), Northwest (215-248-6684), South (215-351-7604), Southwest (215-727-5920), West (215-823-5530), and Central (215-400-7272) regions. The eighth will cover Central East and East regions (215-291-5696). There will be no center to cover the former high school region.

Karren Dunkley, deputy chief for parent, family, community engagement and faith-based partnerships, said parents should go to the nearest office. “Parents can walk in with a transportation inquiry, a need around their child’s IEP, a child in another school that needs intervention services, or just wanting professional development as a parent. Here you have a one-stop shop.”

Parent ombudsmen and parent liaisons will staff the sites, and there will be bilingual services.

Welcome and Enrollment Centers for Multilingual Families help parents of immigrant students new to the District complete applications to enroll their children in school.

A site at District headquarters opened in August. Three others open this fall in the Parent and Family Resource Centers in North, Northeast, and South Philadelphia. They will assess students for language proficiency and academic level and place them in appropriate programs after discussion with the family, said Lucy Feria, deputy chief of multilingual curriculum and programs. They will also help the families access social services.

Each center also has an Internet kiosk where parents can find information in their native language.

The Translation and Interpretation Center at 440 N. Broad St. provides non-English speaking parents with assistance with school-related questions through language hotlines in Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, Cambodian, French, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese; language identification cards; and a language identification chart which they can reference so that staff will know which language access coordinator to assign. When no trained interpreter is available, multilingual families can obtain translation services from a free, 24-hour access line that provides 170 different languages.

A second Re-engagement Center for dropouts seeking to return to school opened on N. Front St. in August. With a bilingual staff, it is designed primarily to serve the Latino community. The first Re-engagement Center, in District headquarters since 2008, has placed nearly 2,800 in accelerated schools, GED programs, and EOPs (Educational Options Programs).

Regional Talent Centers opened at Martin Luther King High School in Mount Airy in March and at Audenried High School in South Philadelphia in September. They provide afterschool and Saturday classes in visual arts, theatre, dance, and music for 6th -12th graders.

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