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NORTHEAST VALLEY : Program to Help At-Risk Children


Students at two northeast San Fernando Valley elementary schools who are behind in school or suffering from neglect will get special attention through a pilot program that tries to prevent juvenile delinquency.

About a dozen administrators, parents and representatives of government and community agencies are forming teams to begin working with students and their families at Morningside and Fenton Avenue schools.

The two-year program, called Families and Schools Together (FAST), makes an attempt to reach 5- to 9-year-old children who are potential dropouts.

The program links the students and their families with schools and agencies to resolve problems that may affect their academic performance.

"The focus of all this is to improve student achievement by getting parents involved and getting agencies involved to take care of basic needs," said Mary Kurzeka, an assistant principal at Morningside in San Fernando.

In August, both schools will start an eight-week session with an initial group of 10 students and their families that includes playtime between parent and child and a parent support meeting. After the session ends, students and their families attend monthly support meetings for two years.

"It gives us the opportunity to work with what might be called dysfunctional families that might need intensive care in a non-threatening way," said Joe Lucente, principal of Fenton Avenue School in Lake View Terrace.

The program will also be implemented at Cerritos Elementary School in the Glendale Unified School District.

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