Supporting Students and Families Navigating Poverty

by Sarah Devine, Family Outreach Supervisor/McKinney-Vento Liaison

The Corvallis School District Family Support Program serves over 300 students experiencing homelessness, and an even larger group of students navigating poverty. Our team works to reduce barriers so that families can increase stability.
Thanks to Corvallis Public Schools Foundation donors like you, we help families meet needs such as emergency rent or utility payments, after-school program scholarships, emergency food and clothing, and more.
Our family advocates would not be able to provide these critical services to families without first building trust. An important part of relationship-building is feeling comfortable speaking with families about their difficult circumstances, including their experiences of homelessness and poverty. Our team works to create an environment in which families can speak honestly about their struggles, and in which they feel comfortable accepting help from our program without shame. To do this, we:
  • Allow families to self-identify their situation. If they don’t use terms like “homeless” or “poor,” we won’t either.
  • Ask open-ended questions about their situation, and remain curious and non-judgmental.
  • Don’t assume we know how they are feeling about their current circumstances, looking for verbal and non-verbal cues. For example, a family could be living in a run-down mobile home without utilities, but for most of their lives, they were in a car or tent and are very proud to have a home now.
  • Frame our inquiry in a way to offer more support: “I wanted to get a little more information on your living situation so that we can make sure we’re supporting your family in every way possible.”
  • Normalize their situation: “A lot of families have moved in with relatives.” or “It’s really tough to find housing right now.”
  • Normalize accepting help: “Our program exists for exactly this kind of situation.” “I’m so glad we could connect today; we have resources that can help with…”
We are grateful to our community that we are able to support this unique program.
This important work is only possible because of your generosity.
Thank you.
Consider making a gift today to support CPSF’s key initiatives.