Family Support Center Opens To Help Families Prepare For 2016-2017 School Year

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Center re-opened for summer on July 18, building upon enrollment process improvements and lessons from previous school years to improve family supports

[NEWARK, NJ – August 2, 2016] – Newark Public Schools (NPS) opened the Family Support Center on July 18 to assist families in getting a school placement for the 2016–2017 school year. The district reports a smoother process for families visiting for enrollment support, which is due in large part to increased supports provided earlier in the school enrollment process. Wait times are also down from previous years and families reported they had a better overall experience during this enrollment period than in years past.

“Our staff and faculty are excited to welcome students to a new school year, and we are committed to making sure we provide high quality customer service to make sure parents have everything they need to identify and enroll in the school that is best for their child,” said Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf of NPS. “We know that most families have been able to resolve their questions prior to this point, but we have made additional enrollment coordinators available to walk parents through the placement process and make sure all children are ready for the first day of school.”

In response to community feedback, NPS made changes to enrollment policies this year to further prioritize neighborhood preferences, keep more siblings together when possible, and better match special education students to programs that meet their needs. These changes – combined with a longer, single enrollment window, better resources to assist families in selecting their schools and more individualized support throughout the application period – helped NPS match more families with schools of their choice earlier and more effectively than ever before.

“We welcome all families to utilize the Family Support Center whenever they have questions or need support,” noted Edward Hui, Chief Strategy Officer at NPS. “The family survey feedback at the Family Support Center in these initial weeks is a strong indication that the changes the district made to the entire enrollment process and at the Family Support Center are better serving the needs of Newark families.”

The Family Support Center has made improvements to the center that make it more welcoming for families including: shorter wait times; providing books, toys and beanbag chairs for children while they wait; and adding changing tables in restrooms. In addition, in order to meet the needs of all families with outstanding questions or concerns, the Family Support Center has outlined a timeline for support throughout the summer to ensure that staff is available to provide differentiated services for families with specific questions. These time periods include:

  • July 18 – 21: High school new student enrollment
  • July 25 – 28: Bilingual student enrollment
  • August 1 – 4: K – 8 new student enrollment
  • August 8 – 11: Special education enrollment
  • August 15 – 18: Pre-Kindergarten enrollment
  • August 22 – 25: General enrollment
  • August 29 – September 1: General enrollment

“Our staff is ready to help families with their enrollment needs and make the process as easy as possible,” said Juceyka Figueroa, Executive Director of the Family Support Center. “We are hopeful that our efforts will continue to make the Family Support Center a welcoming place where families, especially those who are new to the district, can come for help with enrollment questions, or other related placement needs. We look forward to continuing to learn from our experiences this year so that we can continue to improve the services we provide to all Newark families.”

The Family Support Center is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am – 3pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am – 6pm. It is closed on Fridays. In addition, to better serve working families, the Family Support Center is open one Saturday a month, from 9am – 12pm. For more information about the Family Support Center’s hours of operation and the timeline visit the Newark Public Schools website at http://www.nps.k12.nj.us/.

In addition to the Family Support Center, parents enrolling their children in Pre-Kindergarten can also visit one of the many “pop-up” Pre-K enrollment support sites that will be set up throughout the city until August 11. For more information about pop-up Pre-K enrollment sites visit: http://www.nps.k12.nj.us/departments/early-childhood/2016-pop-enrollment-sites/.