Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Resource Center Helps Families Help Themselves

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Resource Center Helps Families Help Themselves

Article excerpt

Chester Hines, coordinator of the Ritenour Family Resource Center, tells the story of a 5-year-old boy named Quincey who already had been branded as a behavior problem. His parents were at their wits' end.

"He was being obstinate at best," Hines recalls.

But then Quincey was screened for health and developmental problems through the center's program called Parents As Teachers. It turned out the child needed glasses.

"He got his glasses and he became the most mannered, capable and lovable little guy that you could ever imagine," Hines said. "He comes by here every day and wants to take a book home to read."

Hines says Quincey's story points out the need for the center, which provides services for residents of the Ritenour School District from birth through adulthood. Hines estimates that the center served 1,500 families last year, its first year of operation.

"There are many of these stories," he says. "And we had the problem fixed in a matter of a couple of days."

Ritenour opened the center last summer after officials noticed that many students were coming to school unprepared to learn. The officials surmised that the problem stemmed from inadequate health care, dysfunctional families or families that didn't know how to find help.

So the district decided to consolidate many of its programs to make school the focal point for both educational and social services.

"I think we've recognized that the problems families are confronted with do not cease on Monday mornings and wait until Friday evening to start up again," Hines says. "The family resource center is this community's response to addressing those issues that some families are not able to handle on their own."

The center offers 18 programs, most of which are housed in the north wing of Hoech Middle School. They include:

Health services, such as immunizations, nutrition, school nurses and drug-awareness programs.

Social services, such as money for emergencies, social workers in the schools and family counseling. …

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