East Ramapo’s new Family Welcome Center designed to support ‘whole community’

“East Ramapo’s Family Welcome Center officially opened Monday, November 21, offering residents of the school district help with just about anything, from finding health insurance and boosting food access to attending English lessons to getting kids’ vaccinations.

Located at the administration building on South Madison Avenue, the center is networked with the schools’ Family Resource Centers. But it’s ready to serve anyone in the community, including those who may not yet have kids in the public schools or whose kids go to private schools. “The district is ready not only to support the child but the family and the whole community,” said Sheila Luna, family and community engagement coordinator for the district.

East Ramapo Welcoming Center

Jocelyn, Losa and Anges Losa, 2 head home withy a free turkey and other supplies from the East Ramapo Family Center in Spring Valley. Photo: Peter Carr/The Journal News

Newcomer community in Spring Valley

The center helps meet the needs of this diverse and growing school district that serves the greater Spring Valley area.

At a recent school board meeting, one official said up to 1,000 new students enroll nearly every week.

The majority are new to the country, have limited English skills and have often faced harrowing journeys to get here. Counseling and other support services can be coordinated at the center.

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There’s staff onsite who can help with Spanish, Haitian Creole and Yiddish speakers, and translators for other languages are available, officials said.

Funding for the center comes from the district’s Office for Student Support Services and Office for Funded Programs, along with federal funding.

Vaccine, health care access

Sun River Health, a federally qualified health center, will be able to provide childhood vaccinations and other inoculations onsite, officials said. The district recently hosted a community flu clinic.

Molina Healthcare and Fidelis Care will also have people onsite to help families find insurance or qualify for Medicaid, district officials said.

Food access

The Welcome Center has a room set up to serve as a food pantry. While bags of food were available, the pantry will be fully operational next month, Luna said. The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley is providing items, Luna said.

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