Meet Andre, a 12 year old student in middle school. Andre is very bright with a great sense of humor. He loves to eat but is known to be picky so simple and delicious is best. Andre tends to be fairly quiet until you start talking Fortnite, Youtube or the newest cell phones–his family members know to check in with him before their next cell phone purchase!
Andre had a difficult transition to middle school. Andre’s mom did not know how to best support her son, especially in light of her own trauma in middle school that she still carries with her years later. Over the course of a few months, Andre was repeatedly bullied, making him feel frustrated and scared.
Fortunately, Andre has a grandmother and auntie that were ready to advocate for his needs. Andre’s mother relied upon family members for the support to help navigate his social and emotional challenges as a middle school student. When Andre lashed out at school in response to another class mate, his school called home. After a phone call, his grandmother deemed it necessary to coordinate a meeting with school leadership to determine the best way to support Andre. The meeting was full of advocates for Andre including his grandparents, parents, aunts and a close family friend. Ultimately, it was decided that the best way to support Andre was to continue his education at home.
Andre is thriving much more now and his family members are still doing their best to figure how to ensure that Andre gets the right social and peer support in his new situation. But what of other youth who may not have family members like Andre’s, who know how the navigate the school system and advocate?
Finding ways to support the families at this critical developmental juncture between middle school and high school is important. So Best Starts for Kids will be investing in an area called Positive Family Connections.
What is Positive Family Connections?
Positive Family Connections is an upcoming funding opportunity. Aiming to fund programs and activities that support families with middle school and high school age youth as they navigate their changing relationships, Positive Family Connections seeks to strengthen the family, particularly the relationship between the young person and their parents/adult caregivers.
There is a gap because many of the parent support groups that exist in communities are focused on families with new babies or children under 5. Through Positive Family Connections, Best Starts will focus on family centered community engagement for parents/caregivers of middle school and high school students living in King County.
This developmental stage for kids includes a lot of transitions and developmental changes. Youth often struggle to figure out who they are and need positive influences outside their household more than ever. Parents and caregivers need support in helping their kids during this unique time. Immigrant and refugee families can face additional stress as parents may not be as influenced by American culture. Best Starts wants all kids and youth to have the support they need to make healthy choices and be safe and happy!
Stay tuned as the RFP for Positive Family Connections will be open soon!