Taft’s one-stop community resource center continues to be the shining star of Kern County.
That was the bottom line of an annual report from director Sandy Koenig to the Taft City School District Board of Trustees Wednesday night.
“It shows our value to the school district,” Koenig said. “It shows how far we’ve come.”
The agency was formed in 2001 with funding from a statewide proposition (Prop. 10) and offers extensive social and educational services for the community.
Besides state funding, Koenig said the center gets help for basic needs and emergency services from the Salvation Army, DIGNITY prescription and transportation and the Chevron Community Spirit program.
Help also comes from the West Side Christian Ministers Association, local service clubs and other local agencies.
“It’s the community pitching in,” she said. “Being successful in school is a community effort. Collaboration is the key to success.”
Prop. 10 provides funds for school readiness programs, she said, including preschool, health services, case management for at-risk children, home visitation and both court-mandated and general parent education.
“In 2011, $90,000 in donations and grants provided lice medication for children removed from school, medications for children out sick, transportation to medical care, food, clothes and more,” her report noted.
“Parent education is really, really vital,” Koenig said.
Her agency helped reunite 30 families.
“This is a very meaningful program,” she said. “These are families that had their children taken away. Our court-mandated services are very good.”
The center provided 50 lice kits last year that saved the school district money in terms of average daily attendance funding.
“These kids miss school,” she said. “We have parents that don’t know how to treat lice.”
Twenty-five children were provided with antibiotics and asthma medication since “MediCal doesn’t pay for (inhalers).”
Koenig said 35 children were provided health insurance at a cost of $11,500, 30 children got immunizations, 50 families got help paying utility bills, and 150 school age children were provided services like transportation, clothing, school readiness, and housing – a service she said “I just can’t put a price on.”
The center’s back-to-school drive last year provided 350 backpacks, school supplies, clothing haircuts – 51 of them – along with physicals and immunizations.
Comparisons with other resource centers in the county show Taft with the highest success rates by far.
And 250 families were provided with Thanksgiving baskets.
Last year the Taft center had an 87 percent acceptance rate for referrals. The next highest among the seven centers countywide was 72 percent.
Page 2 of 2 - “Our rate is just phenomenal,” Koenig said.
Even better is the center’s rate of completed case plans – 95 percent.
“That’s just unheard of,” she said.