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Measure X News

Posted on: September 25, 2023

A Crucial Connection – Measure X-funded Navigators Expanding Reach into Schools

During this past winter’s unusually rainy season, many hourly paid laborers were out of work and unable to provide for their families. EHSD Navigator Sandra Figueroa says she noticed this after several students at La Vonya De Jean Middle School were consistently absent and exhibiting behavioral problems. 

“These were signs there was a lack of food and other resources in their homes,” says Sandra. “These families were going hungry, and because I’m embedded in the school where teachers can notify me, I was able to reach out and connect the students’ families to Medi-Cal (healthcare insurance), CalFresh (food stamps), CalWORKS (cash assistance) and other services provided by EHSD’s community partners.”

Sandra is the first Measure X-funded “4 Our Families” Navigator to be embedded in a Contra Costa County school.  Measure X is a countywide 20-year, ½-cent sales tax that voters approved to support crucial safety net services; invest in early childhood services; protect vulnerable populations; and offer other essential county services.

“You can see when there’s poverty. You can tell when they’re wearing the same clothes every day. The children are depressed,” says Sandra.  “I’m a friendly face in the school who can offer my 31 years of experience. I know what services Contra Costa County has to offer and I’m always networking with other community partners to help my families.” 

A total of five Measure X-funded Navigators will represent each of the five County Supervisor districts. Sandra represents Supervisor John Gioia’s District 1.  Four others are in the process of being onboarded and trained. Workforce Services Program Assistant Al Gibson is a Measure X-funded Navigator who is scheduled to be assigned to Oak Grove Middle School in Pittsburg. 

“Navigating the maze of available resources can be overwhelming, and my role is to guide them with compassion and understanding,” says Al. “While traditional training lays out procedures and necessary steps, it’s not like that in training as a 4 Our Families Navigator. The true learning occurs through experiential activities with participants. We spend time shadowing seasoned colleagues, observing how they interact with families in need. This first-hand experience helps navigators grasp the nuances of emotional support and personalized guidance.”

The 4 Our Families program also recognizes the power of collaboration. Navigators actively engage with each other to share strategies, tips, and resources they've discovered. The Navigators also meet weekly with school staff and discuss students and families in need of help. 

Ultimately, community leaders hope this program becomes an important gateway toward identifying and empowering families to become more self-sufficient while providing an environment for at-risk students to succeed.

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