COUNTY PARTNERS WITH CSA AND SCHOOL DISTRICT TO BRING SERVICES TO ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS AT MVLA HIGH SCHOOLS
SAN JOSE – A new partnership between Santa Clara County, Community Services Agency (CSA), and the Mountain View Los Altos High School District (MVLA) is aiming to provide much-needed support for students learning English as they head back to school after a particularly difficult year.
County Supervisor Joe Simitian sponsored the partnership, which will allow CSA to station a case manager on site at MVLA’s schools for three years to provide targeted support and social services to MVLA’s English Language Learner (ELL) students and their families, with a particular focus on students that entered the U.S. within the last three years. The County awarded $250,000 to CSA for this effort in June.
“As our kids return to school this year, they have to accustom themselves to new teachers and unfamiliar school campuses. They also have to contend with the effects of a global pandemic that we know has hit some folks harder than others,” said Simitian. “Having services and support easily available in our schools is critical not only for helping our students, but their families as well.”
“CSA has a long history of partnering with our local schools,” said Tom Myers, CSA’s Executive Director. “But this effort represents an exciting new opportunity to create a kind of ‘one-stop shop’ on campus for students to get access to a wide variety of services from someone they trust and see all the time. I’m hopeful this effort will allow us to reach out even earlier to students and families that are struggling.”
“This support is critical to allowing our immigrant students to achieve their full academic potential and opens up opportunities that would otherwise not be available to them,” added Daniella Quiñones, an Administrator at Mountain View High School who works closely with the school’s English Learners and their families.
MVLA currently serves 291 ELL students, including 129 that entered the U.S. in just the last three years. Nearly half of these students receive free and reduced lunch, and the need for additional support to address housing instability, economic uncertainty, and other concerns has only grown during the pandemic, according to William Blair, Wellness Coordinator at MVLA.
Blair also noted that ELL students, particularly those who are new to our region, often require specialized support beyond basic services. That might include legal immigration support, language support, or mental health services to help address the trauma they may have experienced in coming to the U.S., as many families seek asylum due to gang violence, death threats, or political instability.
“Trying to navigate the complex web of supportive services within our County is difficult even for those who speak English as a first language, let alone for those who do not,” Blair said. “Having a dedicated case manager who can establish rapport and build trust with our students and families is truly the bridge we need to connect some of our most vulnerable students with the help they need.”
Some of the services that CSA will provide include connecting students and families with food, housing assistance, legal support, medical and mental health services, immigration support services such as "Know your Rights" workshops, income tax support, holiday gift support, and COVID-19 resources.
“This support will allow MVLA to provide strategic and dedicated services to our ELL population, and help improve the ability of these students and their families to access services,” said Teri Faught, MVLA Associate Superintendent of Educational Services.
CSA and MVLA are currently working to hire a case manager to fill this role and hope to begin offering services within the next few months.