The Power of Family Support
Michael, age 8, and Brian, age 12
It was spring when brothers, Michael and Brian, and their family were referred to Lincoln’s School Engagement Program (SEP) by their county’s parent truancy court. The family was homeless, bouncing from place to place, living in a garage, homeless shelter, and sometimes their car. Additionally, the family was struggling to recover from prior domestic violence. The boys were barely attending school, contributing to gaps in their learning in all subjects. When the boys made it to school they were often late, which made them miss instructional time and further affected their motivation to attend school. During this time, their mother was working part-time in a pizza parlor and struggling to save money for a down payment on an apartment.
Lincoln’s SEP staff helped connect mother to housing resources, which started the boys and their family on a new path, including a program through the homeless shelter that transitioned the family into an apartment and assisted in paying rent for the first year. SEP worked closely with the school district and personnel to have the boys transferred to schools within walking distance of their new home, even though the new school year had already started. SEP then worked closely with mother, teachers and school counselors to help the boys adjust to attending school every day and putting into place supports to help them get caught up academically.
Importantly, SEP also provided family and individual therapy to process their past traumatic experiences, enhancing feelings of love, communication and an increased understanding of their trauma, impacting the healthy emotional and social development of the boys. Through their active participation in SEP, the boys developed healthy coping skills and their mother improved and implemented effective parenting practices, such as setting limits and boundaries that contributed to routine and structure and placed focus on the importance of school.
Today, both boys are attending school daily, on time, and are performing at grade level in all subjects, and their mother has returned to school to finish earning her GED. Best of all, with newly strengthened family bonds and solid gains toward the boys’ academic goals, the case was dismissed from court.