Did you know that Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is the 10th largest school system in the United States? Serving more than 186,000 students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12, 28 percent of these students, or approximately 52,080 youth, are eligible for free and reduced-price meals (FARMS)- a primary indicator of poverty. This is where The Neediest Kids (TNK) makes a difference for students – for the ones who come to school with an empty stomach, or do not have clean clothes to wear, or cannot see the whiteboard.
Connecting through their school counselors or teachers with whom they already have a relationship, TNK provides basic supplies to make sure all our students have the resources they need to succeed in school. Think new backpacks filled with school supplies, winter coats and gear when it turns cold, new school uniforms, food, glasses, eye exams and other resources where needed.
This quarter alone, 456 FCPS students received support from The Neediest Kids. Not only was TNK able to supply kids with critical goods to allow them to stay in school and succeed, according to a referral survey from FCPS school social workers, 85.71 percent of them believe The Neediest Kids has a positive impact on the child’s family’s relationship with the school. Another 77.14 percent say it has a positive impact on student’s self-confidence and 74.29 percent describe the assistance as having a positive impact on the student’s performance. This is why a pair of glasses, allowing a child to see the whiteboard and engage with their homework, matters. These simple interventions can change a child’s ability and confidence to not just attend school, but to thrive in its corridors.
We asked our FCPS social workers and teachers for some examples of how TNK has impacted their students and their families. When considering the data above, it is important to remember that each number represents a family and children with varying circumstances, requiring individualized support. Here are a few examples of how The Neediest Kids program has impacted individual students from FCPS social workers:
“This year I worked with a student whose father had been incarcerated for domestic violence against the student’s stepmother.
The student and step-mother did not know how to they would get food and were in desperate need of a short-term plan. Through Neediest Kids, I was able to get them Safeway gift cards to get them through until we were able to develop a longer-term plan. From then on, the student would often come to me to check in and let me know how things were going. It helped her feel more connected and safe at school, especially during her crisis.”
“We had a student at who moved suddenly into a homeless shelter and had to leave her clothing behind where she was previously living. Clothing through Neediest Kids allowed her to get clothing options so that she could come to school dressed appropriately.”
These are just two examples of students and families who are able to be helped through a collaboration between The Neediest Kids and school liaisons.