(By Anthony Panella – AMHERST SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS) This September our Amherst Central School District Family Support Center (FSC) will see a few new changes – a new location at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and additional counseling staff.
In retrospect, the timing of when we established and opened the FSC in January 2020 allowed us to have a foundational program in place to assist our families. Open in-person for just two months before we were forced to close for the pandemic, the FSC has been a vital resource over the past 18 months to connect our families to community human service agencies for support in social, education, mental and physical health needs.
Within our community, families have had so many challenges due to the pandemic. The FSC model provides easy access to a host of community services offering another level of intervention in the district’s student support services. The entire family is incorporated into counseling and support to address all facets of what may be affecting a student’s academic progress at all levels.
Working closely with the Student Services team of counselors, psychologists and social workers in each school building, the FSC program assists parents with getting their children and family the most appropriate, affordable support in a timely manner with issues such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or self-image, substance use, family conflicts, peer relationships or serious school academic or behavior concerns.
The FSC nurtures many collaborative partnerships with providers such as the Parent Network of WNY, Mental Health Advocates of WNY, and Gateway Longview Behavioral Health.
This school year, two additional district staff are assigned to the FSC. A counselor and a social worker will join FSC liaison Jill Glowniak, a licensed clinical social worker. Housed at the center, the three will continue to work with the district’s student services team at each building to serve our families. Extended hours one day a week allows families more flexibility to schedule time with agencies. Throughout the school year, the FSC will offer parent workshops by area experts and district staff. Event schedules, information about free local workshops offered in the area and more about the center can be found at www.amherstschools.org/familysupportcenter.
The center originally opened in Crossroads Lutheran Church, part of the Main Street Ministries that includes St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at 4007 Main St., Eggertsville. Crossroads was sold recently and the Family Support Center was relocated to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, in space right next to the Tiger’s Den Food Pantry.
During the 2020-21 school year, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church expanded our partnership by providing meals to our community through its Daily Bread Food Truck. We were amazed and humbled to learn that the Daily Bread Food Truck had distributed 5,075 meals between September and June. Families facing food insecurity had some respite through a number of meal shares on Thursdays and Saturdays for our Tiger’s Den Food Pantry families and the Monday night meal distributions at Windermere Boulevard and Amherst Central High School.
These partnerships prove that we are stronger together and by caring and looking out for one another, we can provide support and assistance when it’s needed.