Latino and Youth Services

LATINO SERVICES

Family Service initiated Latino support and services in 1981 when it hired the first bilingual counselor in the area.  Nuestro Center, a family resource center was established in 1997.  The Youth Educational Support and Success (YESS) program was established in 2011, and the Latino Youth Initiative was established in 2008.  Together, these programs provide a continuum of educational and family support from age 6 at elementary school, through middle school, to high school graduation and college acceptance until age 21.  Our staff works closely with administrators and faculty at Oak Terrace School in Highwood and Northwood Junior High School and Highland Park High School in Highland Park.  In all three programs, 100% of participants are connected to a primary care physician.  Children and youth receive at least one healthy meal while participating in program activities, including healthy after-school snacks and camp lunch.  In FY14, over 3,500  Latino community members were served by these programs.

Nuestro Center offers resources that help children, parents, other adults, and seniors achieve their full potential through educational and skill-building support.  The Center has many opportunities for volunteers.  For more information, click here.

  • Programs for Children include after-school homework tutoring, physical activities, arts, special projects, summer camp, field trips, building healthy living and eating habits, and primary physician referral.  Nuestro Center’s After-School Homework Club serves Oak Terrace Elementary School, which has the most low-income students (73%), lowest ISAT scores (56%), and highest percentage of English-language learners (57%) of District 112 elementary schools.  With our intervention:children below grade level standards at the beginning of the program will make measurable gains in English Language Arts and Math/Science.  they also will improve attendance and homework completion rate.

    Our staff and trained volunteer tutors work with students after school to ensure understanding and completion of homework.  Staff collaborates closely with teachers and parents to understand each student’s needs, to ensure effective educational assistance.  Staff also provides advocacy, serving as a link between students and their families and school staff to ensure students’ social, educational and academic achievement. Field trips and art activities are offered on Fridays and days off, to provide some of the cultural enrichment experiences enjoyed by students’ peers and to broaden horizons to the possibilities for a successful life.

  • Programs for Adults include ESL and computer classes, health-and-wellness educational programs, and referrals.

YESS Program provides educational, mentoring, and enrichment opportunities to students at Northwood Junior High School and their families.  It also provides supportive programming to a targeted group of immigrant and low-income students and their families.  Services provided by the YESS program help promote all student participants’ successful transition into high school and also help deter at-risk students from dropping out.  YESS students begin significantly behind peers--20 points in science, 34 points in math, and 43 points in reading.  To ensure academic preparedness for 9th-grade success, with our intervention: 70% of students will achieve at least a C+ or above in Core classes   (Reading, Math, and Science); 75% of students will demonstrate increased knowledge of the social/emotional topics covered.  To ensure familial support of academic success: 65% caregivers will report confidence in supporting students, 85% caregivers of students will participate in non-disciplinary teacher conferences

YESS staff meets with school counselors, teachers, and administrators on a regular basis to discuss individual progress and develop targeted strategies to provide additional, personalized support for students who may need it.  Staff and trained volunteers work with students after school.  As in the Nuestro After-School Homework Club, YESS students also have cultural enrichment opportunities during the school year.  In addition, they participate in our SELF (Strengthening Emotional Life Foundations) Program, which is available to all students in School Districts 112 and 113.  SELF provides preventive education for pre-teens and teens that de-stigmatizes behavioral and mental health-related topics and empowers students to make their own healthy and safe decisions.

Staff also provides advocacy, serving as a link between students and their families and school staff to ensure students’ social and academic achievement.  Close, individualized attention brings positive results in improved communication between parents and schools and in student achievementWith our intervention: 

LYI Program  LYI high school students begin significantly behind peers—52 points in reading, 48 points in math, and 52 points in science.  LYI staff meets with school counselors, teachers, and administrators on a regular basis to discuss individual progress and develop targeted strategies to provide additional support for those students who may need it.  Staff also provides advocacy, serving as a link between students and their families and school staff to ensure students’ social and academic achievement.  Successful students, often despite a full schedule and job responsibilities, are now offering to team with staff to serve as mentors for incoming students.  Close, individualized attention brings positive results in improved communication between parents and school and in student achievement.  With our intervention, of youth below grade-level standards will make measurable gains in English Language Arts and math.

In addition: Students also participate in our SELF (Strengthening Emotional Life Foundations) Program, which is available to all students in School Districts 112 and 113.  SELF provides preventive education for pre-teens and teens that de-stigmatizes behavioral and mental health-related topics and empowers students to make their own healthy and safe decisions.  Students preparing for after-school jobs receive mentoring on such topics as job applications and job interview preparation.  A field trip to the Lake Country Jobapalooza (job-seeking fair) is included in the curriculum when schedule permits.  College applicants receive mentoring on preparing applications, admission interviews, and testing.  Field trips to area colleges are offered, as well as the opportunity for parents to accompany students on the trips to become familiar with college campuses and student life on campus.  Other opportunities include those for leadership in school and community, cultural enrichment to broaden horizons and encourage learning about and fostering pride in their rich cultural heritage in a manner that is positive and which can help dispel stereotypes about Latinos and help bridge the existing cultural gap in their community.

Escuela en Casa (In-Home or Off-Site ESL) provides an innovative, flexible approach to meeting adults’ needs and schedules while helping them gain critical English-language skills to improve their lives and the lives of their families.  The curriculum varies from primary instruction in spoken English or in written English, or both.  In FY17, 100% of students graduated and went on to the next level of instruction.

YOUTH SERVICES

SELF (Strengthening Emotional Life Foundations) is a behavioral-health program developed in collaboration with the District 112 Director of Curriculum and District 112 physical education and health teachers. This program specifically helps educate middle-school and high-school students and their parents about emotional safety and healthy lifestyle choices in several areas, including self-image, online safety, peer pressure, nutrition and smoking and substance abuse.