MCS added Family Navigators within the district in the fall of 2021 through a partnership with Marian University's Center for Vibrant Schools in Indianapolis, the Midwest center for a program called City Connects. All Family Navigators (also called City Connects site coordinators) are masters'-trained social workers, school counselors or mental health professionals.
The program is made possible to MCS through funding made available by the City of Muncie. Originally developed in Boston, City Connects has more than 20 years of proven success. The program helps students achieve better grades, higher attendance and lower dropout rates.
Family Navigators work with parents, guardians and school staff to help identify strengths and needs of every student. They then create and implement a specific plan for enrichment activities and services specific for each child in need. This could include clubs, sports, tutoring services and other community services to benefit the child and even the entire family.
A Family Navigator works closely with school personnel and community agencies to implement a wide range of programs, services and enrichment opportunities to benefit students. The Family Navigator also works with school staff to develop creative ways to provide in-school support for children. Some examples of the types of services include:
- Before and after-school programs
- Academic support or tutoring enrichment opportunities in sports, music or art
- Vacation and summer programs counseling
- Social skills groups
- Health care services
- Ideas to support positive behavior at home
The Family Navigator at your child's school follows a three-step student support process: Review, Plan and Follow-up.
In collaboration with school staff, the Family Navigator leads a comprehensive discussion about every child’s strengths and needs across four areas: academics, social/emotional/behavioral needs, health and family.
After your child’s strengths and needs are identified, the Family Navigator makes recommendations to families and caregivers about a tailored set of services and enrichment activities. A core aspect of the Family Navigator's role is to develop and maintain partnerships with community-based organizations that provide an array of services.
To evaluate the effectiveness of referrals, the Family Navigator communicates regularly with parents/caregivers, school staff and service providers. Family Navigators play a significant role in:
- Recommending and connecting you to services that may support your child and/or the whole family
- Providing information on school processes and service options
- Collaborating on ideas to address disciplinary or behavioral issues at home