Camden says students, families will benefit from new partnership

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CAMDEN — Camden Central Schools will celebrate becoming the fourth central New York school district and the first of five new districts, to join the Connected Community Schools (CCS) family with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Sept. 13, at 3:30 p.m. at the district’s s CCS “hub” at Camden High School, 55 Oswego St.

Officials and distinguished guests from the state, county and village, as well as district residents, friends and neighbors, are invited to join the school community and CCS team members in celebrating the broadening of the CCS footprint — and the help available to the students and families it serves.

The Connected Community Schools effort began in the Rome City School District four years ago as a pilot program.

The Dolgeville and Waterville districts joined the program in 2018 as it enjoyed the milestone of engaging 100 community partners in its efforts. The CCS model rests on the premise that a student cannot fully access their education if their and their family’s basic needs are not being met. School teams identify students at risk and CCS works with that student and their family to assess the family holistically. CCS has created LINK — which is a single source leading families
available resources and support for needs including food insecurity, housing / homelessness, mental health issues, primary health and dental needs and addiction issues.

They also sponsor community “hubs” — usually school-based — - that are stocked not only with food and snacks, but school supplies, gently used to donated new clothing, including winter coats and boots, toiletry items from toothpaste to soap to deodarant to personal care items for young women and items for families including pampers and infant formula. Donations are accepted all week, but students and families are welcome to make appointments to access hubs discretely.  

During the COVID pandemic, food insecurity became the number one concern of central New York families and CCS responded quickly and effectively to centralize their food donations and engage their 100 partners and partner school communities to distribute - to date - 1.2 million pounds of food to 32,000 local families in need. They are now shifting to a focus on housing and homelessness as they anticipate an acute spike in the wake of the lifting of the eviction suspension, and moving forward - mental health and socio-emotional needs of students and families as they survive the pandemic and its impact.

“No one single non-profit corners the market on every service, and there are so many services and supports that can help children and families,” said Melissa Roys, Executive Director of CCS. “I feel like this partnership works.”

Superintendent of Camden Central School district, Dr. Ravo Root III said he and the district are “thrilled” to partner in this effort, and he looks forward to better meeting the diverse needs of a diverse community of families that come together to comprise a district that spans 300 square miles.

“For years now, the Camden Central School District has been looking to provide more mental and physical health services to the Camden community at large,” said Root. “This program will really help meet the basic needs of our neediest students and families.”

Roys is as excited to welcome the Camden community aboard.

“We’ve been working with Camden for a few months now to bring this together, and it’s been fabulous,” said Roys. “We couldn’t be more excited to work with an amazing superintendent and group of teachers and staff and a community who are already trying to make an impact.” 

By becoming a CCS partner district, Camden hopes to follow the extremely successful model that CCS has put in place and proved remarkably effective in making a positive impact on its partner communities. 

Said Roys of the new partnership, “We will now be able to assist with that impact and make a true difference in the lives of teachers, students and families in Camden.”

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