The following press release was issued by the Calaveras County Office of Education.
Each year Calaveras County Health and Human Service Agency (HHSA) and Calaveras County Office of Education (CCOE) collaborate on innovative ways to utilize grant money aimed to help youth transition into adulthood while increasing safety and connection with community resources. Taking into consideration the financial challenges families have faced this past year, the focus was to aid youth in meeting basic needs while providing connection to community resources, which led to the backpack go-bag project.
Lora Larson, Deputy Director of Calaveras County Social Services, shared that she reached out to
CCOE’s Foster Youth Services Manager, Kristina Smith, because “Kristina and her team are innovative and dialed into the needs of Calaveras County youth, and the backpack project is a primary example.”
Kristina Smith and her Student Support Services team shopped for, assembled and distributed the backpacks. Kristina Smith shared, “We have many transition-aged youths in our community whose living situations are very fluid. The idea was to provide emergency supplies to youth who may need to evacuate or leave their home, for a variety of reasons.”
The backpacks contain school supplies, toiletry supplies, a blanket, socks, a hat, a scarf and gloves, a water bottle, and hand sanitizer. The intent of the backpack is to provide youth in crisis a “go-bag” to meet their immediate needs.
Agencies such as the Children’s Advocacy Center, Probation, Child Welfare, Behavioral Health, Sierra Child and Family Services, Environmental Alternatives Family Services, high school sites, and CCOE will distribute the backpacks. Mrs. Larson stated, “I hope the youth, receiving the backpacks, know that they are important, they matter and they are valued”.
CCOE works closely with Health and Human Service Agency to provide programs and services to children in our schools and community. These partnerships are essential in meeting the need of Calaveras County youth. Mrs. Larson expressed, “I am humbled and honored to work with an amazing group of professionals whose primary focus is supporting youth and families.”