The Fifth Annual Back to School night for youth and families participating in the collaborative Albany County Juvenile Reporting and Family Center (JRFC) program was held at LaSalle School on August 28th. With over 100 attending, more than 70 school age kids from 20 families got what they came for – good advice, school supplies, and a delicious barbecue dinner topped off with ice cream donated by Stewart’s Shops!!
One of the most important aspects of preparing for the school day is the development of a healthy, well-established routine. This year’s Back to School Night emphasized the importance of following a solid routine on students and families with a format that was educational, functional, and fun. Upon arrival, students and parents received ‘passports’ at the registration desk. Their assignment was to walk around the room, visit at least five different display tables, collect completion stickers from each table visited, and then redeem their ‘passports’ for backpacks they filled with school supplies.
Community organizations participating included Liberty Partnership, the Albany Police Department, the Albany Pride Group, Cornell Cooperative 4H, the Counseling Center at LaSalle, Equinox, Trinity, Fidelis Healthcare, and Planned Parenthood. LaSalle School, Saint Catherine’s Center for Children, and Saint Anne Institute worked together to secure backpacks and items to fill them including pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, folders, and notebooks.
While their older siblings armed themselves with good advice and school supplies, the pre-school kids participated in well-staffed coloring, puzzle, and face painting activities. Designed to keep youngsters busy, these creative exercises mirrored what their big brothers and sisters learn in the JRFC program about their own decision making instincts, personal preferences and choices, and assertiveness. There were also special raffle drawings for gift cards from Walmart and Target for families.
The Juvenile Reporting and Family Center is supported by Prevention funds provided by the Albany County Department for Children, Youth and Families, and is a collaboration with sites at LaSalle School, Saint Anne Institute, and Saint Catherine’s Center for Children. The JRFC provides a holistic approach to building and enhancing protective factors for youth and families involved in the Juvenile Justice System while maintaining the youth’s connections to his / her community. It is an effort by the three agencies to work together to serve more youth at risk of formalized detention lowering the cost to Albany County.