EATON — Representatives from the Preble County Success Program attended the Eaton Board of Education meeting on Monday, March 12, to update the board on the program and the impact it has made in the lives of Preble County residents. S
Supervisor Cari Wynne reminded the board of the history of the program — stemming from Butler County — while Eaton School Community Liaison Leslie Bassler told personal stories of the work she has been doing in the school.
“The program started 15 years ago in Butler County. It is under the direction of the Educational Service Center there in Butler County. We came to Eaton two years ago and, at that time, we were funded by something called the Healthier Buckeye Grant. Unfortunately, that went away,” Wynne said.
“This year, we are funded by a variety of sponsors, including Preble County Job and Family Services, the Mental Health Board, Juvenile Court, a couple grants, and then support from schools such as yourself. We would not be here if not for your support. We are thankful and most grateful.”
According to Wynne, the program tries to look at families within the school and eliminate learning barriers.
“That can be anything from the kids not eating regularly, they’ve never seen a dentist, they’re not receiving medical care, they have untreated mental health needs — you name it. We like to say that we will try to tackle whatever needs families are facing and we are going to help meet those needs. How we go about doing that is through our School Community Liaisons,” she said.
“Leslie [Bassler] is housed within the school buildings and there she is very much a part of her school team, but she also spends a lot of time in the community and meeting with families. We try to meet families wherever they are most comfortable, a lot of times that is in their homes, but sometimes it is in the school or in the community. We are notified of these families through school personal — anybody in the school district who sees a need. We try our best to address it.
“We also get referrals through parents. Now that we’ve been around, the world has come out. We sometimes have parents who reach out to us for help and we love when that happens. Once we know a family is in need, we’re going to meet with them, access needs, and make a plan to address those needs. We really are about meeting individual needs and not just a cookie cutter approach. Bassler is going to figure out what that particular family needs and they’re going to make a plan together.
“Through that, she helps them get access to resources, but it is so much more than giving out numbers. It really is about relationships that Leslie is making with those families. That relationship is what makes them follow through when they feel defeated. She is their cheerleader. The great news is, we feel like Preble County has embraced us. They have supported us and joined forces with us.”
Currently, Bassler is officially assisting 71 students, however, she works with many other students and families who are not an official part of the program due to paperwork.
“Of course there has been many families we’ve been able to help this year, but there is one I wanted to talk about tonight,” Bassler said. “She came to me before school even started. She was homeless, had four kids, and her oldest child was about to start kindergarten. She was new to the area and didn’t know what resources were available, so I helped her and we built a relationship.
“We got her into the homeless shelter, where she transitioned into transitional housing, and got involved with a program called CareSource Life Services that helps people with employment. She became employed, but she was pregnant with her fifth kid and had a worry about being in transitional housing when she gave birth.
“Outside of the housing aspect, I referred her to many classes in Preble County, one of which is called Getting Ahead, that is solely focused on helping parents get out of poverty. It is a very demanding class. She completed that class. Right now, as of last week, she did get housing. Her other child is born and she has been able provide things by herself. That family was one that it wasn’t just me, it was the entire community.”
Bassler added, many people don’t think Preble County has many resources because they are a small community, but there are more out there than people know and it is her job to spread that awareness and link people to those services.
“What we love is for families to get to the point where they no longer need us,” Wynne said. “We are thrilled to be here in Eaton and, once again, we thank you very much, because we would not be here without the community’s support.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH