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Agencies to face student, family problems together

March 26, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

Agencies to face student, family problems together

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - There are times when Lisa Carper feels overwhelmed by the problems of students and their families.

The social worker for Jefferson County Schools says she's seen children who are homeless, children who are hungry, and children whose parents have mental health problems.

"We've provided families with a couple of pounds of bologna and a loaf of bread until other services could be provided," Carper said.

Jefferson County school officials are joining a cooperative effort by seven local agencies that will mean more services for families and at-risk students.

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"Let's face it. If we had to come to school and we haven't had dinner or breakfast, we might have trouble dealing with math," said Jefferson County schools Superintendent David Markoe.

Carper said that in the 1996-1997 school year, she had 414 students referred to her. She also made more than 2,000 phone calls and 350 home visits.

The agencies have formed a group called Families Agencies Community Enrichment Services as an outgrowth of last fall's Governor's Summit for West Virginia's Future, said schools spokeswoman Liz Thompson.

FACES includes the Jefferson County school system, Shepherd College, Regional Education Service Agency VIII, Jefferson County Health Department, Department of Juvenile Probation, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and EastRidge Health Systems. The Free Our Citizens of Unhealthy Substances Coalition and the United Way of Jefferson County are serving as advisors.

Jan Warner, education disabilities manager for Head Start in Jefferson County, said it is common to interview a student about behavior problems in school and learn that the child comes from a broken home, has a problem with depression and has had a brush with the law.

She said different agencies may be working with the youth, but not realize the extent of the child's problems.

A FACES coordinator will manage the cases and serve as a liaison between the families and the agencies.

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