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Children First Academy is an open enrollment public charter school that serves homeless and at-risk students. It is the nation's largest school for homeless children.
"We, as members of Children First Academy, commit ourselves to every child, every opportunity, every day. Every one of our children, every opportunity to perform, every day they are with us."
The kindergarten through eighth grade students are not typical public school students. Many of the children routinely go without life's basic necessities - food, clothing, air conditioning, water, and most importantly a stable home life. Although many of the students never spend more than one night in the same place, they always have their school to attend each day. It fulfills much more than the typical school's role, it is the sense of stability these children so desperately need.
Transportation: There are no boundaries when it comes to the needs of children of homeless families. Bus routes are changed on a daily basis to accommodate the transitional lifestyle of these families. This unique service allows the school the opportunity to provide a consistent learning environment and stability that is often lacking in other areas of the student's lives.
Food: All students are provided a nutritionally balanced breakfast and lunch. Snacks are also provided during the day. Food boxes are given to families when there is little or no food at home.
Clothing: Through community donations, children are able to receive hygiene kits, clothing, and shoes during a monthly visit to the clothing room.
Social Services Outreach staff provides referrals to social service agencies and helps break down the barriers that prevent families from accessing these services.
Medical Care: Students are provided proper medical and dental care through a partnership with Phoenix Children Hospital and Community Dental. These services include immunizations, health screening including vision and hearing assessments, and dental referrals.
The Small Learning Communities Program (SLC) is a series of "school within a school" learning modules focused on academic and social achievement. We use service learning and service leadership as key features of engaging student learners in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of these modules. Students have the opportunity to apply for positions within the SLC program. Once they have submitted an application, they are interviewed, screened and placed according to their priorities, achievement data, demonstrated behaviors and personal input.
- Terri Hanshew
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