JCPS has 107 coordinators serving 141 Family Resource & Youth Service Centers (FRYSCs) in the district
February 8, 2021 – As a youth service coordinator at Marion C. Moore School, Jamie Issis knows from experience how big of an impact she can make in a student’s life.
One year she connected with a female student who had lived in foster care her entire life. With the foster family unable to meet her needs, the student struggled to stay motivated in class or plan for her future. Issis became her advocate, and worked with state officials to help get her into independent living. “She went from struggling to working full time and earning a full ride to the University of Louisville,” Issis said. “She’s doing great. We still talk to this day. I check in on her, make sure she has food.”
“This position is very much needed within JCPS,” Issis said. “I just didn’t know there would be this much need.”
“You expect education to be built on teachers, not social services,” she added. “Teachers don’t know that aspect of what help families need, and we don’t know how to teach. It makes for a nice marriage.”
Carla Cosby, the family resource coordinator for Johnsontown Road and Dixie Elementary schools, has been in her role for nearly as long as FRYSCs have been around.
“When you do this type of work, it’s got to be a calling,” she said. “Some people, since they were little, always knew they wanted to be a teacher, or a nurse, or a doctor. I knew this is what I was meant to do.”
The role is critical for “empowering parents and doing the types of programs that help their children,” she said.
That can mean everything from providing food and school supplies, to helping arrange housing and assisting with utility bills, to providing a child with clean clothes while they wash and dry their existing ones.
FRCs have even helped set up sports programs in elementary schools, going so far as hiring referees and working the admission table.
“A lot of coordinators started those types of activities at the elementary level,” Cosby said. “Prior to that, students started playing sports in middle school. We’ve come a long way.”
Nearly a year into a pandemic that has created historic challenges for families and students, family resource and youth service coordinators say their job is more vital than ever.
“A lot has happened to a lot of people this past year,” Cosby said. “I’ve had parents break down. They may have to rely on their 70-year-old grandmother to do NTI with their child, and their 70-year-old grandmother doesn’t know how to do technology.”
“It’s a huge support for a lot of parents who need this,” she added. “People don’t understand what basic needs does for a child. That they have a decent coat. That they have decent shoes. It’s really important. It just makes a child feel so much better.”