FRYSCs celebrate 30 years in GC Schools 1

Pictured, from left, are local FRYSC coordinators, from left: Kim Cannon (10 years at Caneyville FRC), Ann Brooks (19 years at the Clarkson FRC), Rick Whobrey (three years at GCMS/Wilkey FRYSC) and Barbara Allen (26 years at GCHS/Lawler FRYSC).

Family Resource Youth Services Centers have been significantly impacting the lives of students and families in Kentucky for over 30 years. Following a declaration by the Kentucky Supreme Court that Kentucky’s education system was inefficient and inequitable, the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) was formed in 1990.

In response to growing concerns and desire to remove barriers to educational success, the Kentucky General Assembly created the Family Resource Youth Services Centers (FRYSCs) as an integral part of the reform system. The need for education and human service systems to engage in the joint provision of services and support to children, youth, and families had rapidly increased. The growing number and complexity of problems faced by our society (e.g. poverty, family restructuring, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and domestic and youth violence) have caused increasing levels of stress on families and children — stress that children bring to the classroom, which creates barriers to learning.

These problems have also placed a greater demand on public service agencies and demonstrate a need for community and schools to work together to restore family and child well-being. KERA provided an unprecedented state-level partnership between Kentucky’s Department of Education and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. These partnerships share the responsibility of implementing and sustaining centers across the state.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Division of FRYSC, has the responsibility for the administration of this program, where the Kentucky Department of Education continues to provide technical support for the public education mandate. Now more than two decades since inception, the Kentucky Family Resource, and Youth Services Centers are recognized as the nation’s largest school-based family support initiative.

These centers are designed to address the needs of children by developing partnerships with school, family, and community to help all public school students reach proficiency. Recent surveys report that educators, parents, and community partners feel that the Family Resource and Youth Services Centers are a “necessary component of Kentucky educational programming and “a program vital to students, empowering families, and helping to improve schools.”

In each of the Grayson County Schools, a FRYSC/FRC coordinator works within the school to make sure childrens’ and families’ basic needs are being met. The coordinator works with local resources, such as the Grayson County Alliance Food Pantry, Community Action, the Grayson County Extension Office, Adult Education, churches, businesses, and other civic groups. The partnerships with these local resources, allow children and families to have food, clothing, weekend food, housing, utilities, holiday assistance, and more. The services that are provided in the school are each uniquely specific for the individual child or family’s needs.

The unofficial motto of the FRYSC is “whatever it takes.” During the COVID outage and extended period of children being home, the local resource centers provided countless hours of services geared to reach families through porch visits, NTI work picked up or taken out, food service support either helping prepare or deliver meals, support for families in need of utilities, assistance with P-EBT benefits, locating resources in the community that helped with holiday assistance, or healthcare covering mental health support.

In 1991, just over 100 Family Resource and Youth Services Centers were opened in Kentucky. In 2021, centers now have grown to 857 serving 1,200 schools.

This year, Family Resource Youth Services Centers across the state were recognized the week of Feb. 8-12. Legislators are working on legislation to make the second Wednesday of every February the annual FRYSC Day in Kentucky. It was Feb. 10, this year. To celebrate, we are asking that you display a picture of the attached “We Love Our FRYSC” logo that week in the window of your business, organization, church, home, etc. and also post pictures to Facebook using the hashtag #FRYSCStrong to recognize the dedication that these centers provide for our students and families every day.

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