New data collection initiative will help City and School District more efficiently serve children whose parents or guardians are veterans or active-duty servicemembers
Joined by parents and students at Leland Elementary School in San Pedro, Mayor Eric Garcetti today unveiled a new program that will help deliver essential resources to Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) students whose parents or guardians are either veterans or active-duty service members.
Through a new collaboration between the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, LAUSD, the University of Southern California’s Building Capacity Project and the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative, the school district will now immediately, upon enrollment, identify students from military families by adding a few simple questions to the district’s mandatory student emergency information forms.
“For too long our city has been unable to strategically target resources in a way that directly and efficiently supports our military community,” said Mayor Garcetti. “This small change will radically increase our capacity to support veterans and their families as they adjust to life during and after military service.”
LAUSD is the largest school district in the nation to take this important step on behalf of military families. The data collected on the emergency forms will 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.
Military and veteran-connected students can experience high levels of stress, and research shows that they are at an increased risk for substance abuse, weapon carrying, victimization by peers, and thoughts of suicide. While the new questions only take up a single line of space on the emergency form, they will help families quickly access critical services — including recreational opportunities, tutoring resources, and advocacy assistance.
The Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, the first in Los Angeles since World War II, launched the initiative for this project in January 2014 by convening key stakeholders from the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative.
“As a veteran, I have seen firsthand the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. Their families also pay a price,” said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines. “Because of frequent moves, their children are often the ‘new kid in class,’ who find themselves trying to fit in months after school started. At L.A. Unified, we want to do everything we can to help these students and their families, who deserve our heartfelt appreciation for their service.”
LAUSD Boardmember Dr. Richard Vladovic also praised the new partnership.
“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,” Boardmember Vladovic said. “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.”
Authored by the Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices team at USC, 5,000 resource guides will be distributed throughout the district to assist schools in developing school-based interventions for children in military, Guard, Reserve and veteran families.
“The collaboration between LAUSD, the Mayor’s Office and USC has been remarkable,” said Ron Avi Astor, the USC School of Social Work professor, who co-authored the guides. “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.”
The L.A. Veterans Collaborative, an organization of community stakeholders and groups serving veterans and military families in Los Angeles, also praised the landmark initiative.
“Developing school environments that are aware, understanding and are able to effectively intervene with these students’ needs, are crucial to strengthening home/school engagement and supporting resiliency in military-connected students and their families,” said Dr. Deborah Hayes, who chairs the Children and Families working group of the L.A. Veterans Collaborative.
LAUSD has already begun responding to this new information, with school-based social workers ready to deploy to campuses as needed.