CALEXICO — The dream of providing Calexico students and their families with a variety of resources in one place has come to fruition, school district officials say.
“We are not just talking services to students, we are talking services to families; that’s why this becomes so powerful,” Calexico Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Gonzales said during the unveiling of the district’s new Family Resource Center and Student Services facility.
The new home of the Family Resource Center, which encompasses 6,000 square feet at the former Aurora High School site at 641 Rockwood Ave., was opened to the public for the first time the morning of Aug. 4.
“Being the largest district in the county, we do have more needs that present themselves,” Gonzales said. “It’s just wonderful that we now have a real facility that is going to offer so many different services and the buildings to house those agencies that provide those services.”
The facility houses a variety of agencies including the Family Resource Center staff, who assists students and parents in intervention and prevention, a student support specialist, licensed clinical social workers, a homeless facilitator, After School Education and Safety staff, food services staff, migrant department staff members, and outside community agencies, explained Hortencia Armendariz, coordinator of the Family Resource Center.
“Now we are all together with the same purpose of serving our students,” Armendariz said.
The facility will also include a washer and dryer for those students who may need those services, as well as a walk-in closet-type trailer complete with donated clothes, school supplies, a food pantry and personal hygiene items available for students or families to take as needed, Armendariz noted.
“In the past I used to always take students’ clothes home and I would wash them, so now we will have our own place here where we can wash,” she said.
A total of about 21 staff members are set to work within the main resource center office building once school is allowed to re-open in-person, Armendariz said. Prior to the pandemic the family resource center services were available at a smaller site with only about six staff members. The other agencies and programs did still work with the center via their various locations throughout the city. Although all the resource center’s services are still available, distancing measures have not yet allowed the community to fully utilize the new facility.
“Prior to the new facility, parent training was not able to be performed on the old site,” Armendariz said. “They would have to find school sites to perform them.”
The site also includes staff offices, lounge, conference rooms, meeting rooms, a waiting area, receptionist desk in the main building, and several offices and storage units in the renovated modular buildings. Additionally, the new facility will also feature trailers devoted to training sessions for parents or staff, one of which can hold up to 100 people, Gonzales explained.
“To best serve the community, have them go to one place where all the training can be held for parents,” Gonzales said.
The center’s services are available to the district’s nearly 9,000 enrolled students, which can bring in anywhere between 50 to 100 students and parents a month in search of services, said Armendariz, who has worked at the center since its creation 17 years ago.
“I always knew we needed to relocate,” she said. “Our parents are so excited to be able to have a place they can call their own.”
The facility and new parking area have also been renovated to be structurally stable and meet state seismic, Americans with Disabilities Act, and COVID standards, and codes. The facility is also currently in the process of renovating a building at the site for childcare to provide parents a safe place to leave their children as they meet with staff to discuss services, shared Armendariz.
“I can’t think of any other location like this in the county that offers all the comprehensive services in one location,” said Michael Castillo, a Calexico Unified board member. “There’s little pockets here and there in trailers at school districts, but this one really offers the whole package of service in one stop.”
Castillo and his fellow board members supported the facility’s transition through the approval last year of its $1.6 million project cost, state funds prioritized through the Local Control and Accountability Plan, according to the district.
“When parents are in need, they don’t know where to go,” Armendariz said. “It’s so nice they can just pick up the phone or walk in.” To learn more about the new Family Resource Center and Student Services facility and its services, contact Calexico Unified at 760-768-3888.