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LAUSD increasing help for children of veterans and active-duty military

Craig Clough | November 12, 2015

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LA Mayor Eric Garcetti at Leland Street Elementary. (Credit: Twitter @LAMayorsOffice)

Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced a new program that will help identify students in LA Unified whose parents are veterans or active-duty service members so that they can receive extra resources available to them.

Joining Garcetti at Leland Elementary School in San Pedro, where he announced the new program, were LA Unified school board member Richard Vladovic and LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino.

“For too long our city has been unable to strategically target resources in a way that directly and efficiently supports our military community,” Garcetti said in a statement. “This small change will radically increase our capacity to support veterans and their families as they adjust to life during and after military service.”

The program, announced the day after Veterans Day, represents a collaboration among the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, LA Unified, the University of Southern California’s Building Capacity Project and the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative, according a press release from the mayor’s office.

As part of the program, the school district will identify students from military families by adding questions to the district’s mandatory student emergency information forms, which will then “help district and school officials direct critical services and apply for new federal funding for campuses with high enrollment among military and veteran-connected families,” according to the release.

Children of veterans experience high levels of stress and are at an increased risk for substance abuse, weapon carrying, victimization by peers and thoughts of suicide, according to the mayor’s office, and the new forms will help get these students more recreational opportunities, tutoring resources and advocacy assistance.

“As a veteran, I have seen firsthand the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. Their families also pay a price,” LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a statement. “Because of frequent moves, their children are often the ‘new kids in class,’ who find themselves trying to fit in months after school started. At LA Unified, we want to do everything we can to help these students and their families, who deserve our heartfelt appreciation for their service.”

Vladovic posted a picture to his Facebook page from the event that featured him on stage showing off his old field jacket from his Army days to the students gathered in the school’s auditorium.

“It is very important that we not only honor the brave men and women who have served this nation, but educate the next generation on how to honor those who serve and inspire them to be the future leaders and defenders of our nation,” Vladovic said in a statement. “We must remember their service, as well as their sacrifices; the time spent in hardship, away from home; and, on occasion, the sacrifice of their very lives to keep us safe.”

As part of the program, 5,000 resource guides authored by the Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices team will be distributed throughout the district “to assist schools in developing school-based interventions for children in military, Guard, Reserve and veteran families,” according to the release.

The collaboration “has been remarkable,” Ron Avi Astor, the USC School of Social Work professor, who co-authored the guides, said in a statement. “Being able to provide services and resources to those schools with high concentrations of military and veteran students will be a model for other mega urban school districts like Chicago and NYC where a large proportion of veteran and military families live.”


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