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Say Yes Buffalo Announces new $3.5 Million Partnership with Child & Family Services

Press Release

SAY YES BUFFALO ANNOUNCES NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH CHILD & FAMILY SERVICES OF BUFFALO

Human services agency selected through competitive process to provide support and back-office functions for Say Yes programs and staff

April 29, 2016, Buffalo, NY: Today, Say Yes Buffalo announced that Child & Family Services of Buffalo is the agency that was selected for a $3.5 million contract to support the Say Yes School-Based Preventive Program in the Buffalo Public Schools and provide human resources, payroll and information technology support for all 73 Say Yes Buffalo personnel. The contract will be effective July 1, 2016.

Erie County funds a significant portion of Say Yes Buffalo’s School-Based Preventive Program ($2.2 million) and as with all of its programs initiates a competitive request for proposals process (RFP) every three to five years. Say Yes to Education funds the remaining portion of the Program as well as administrative and program staff who manage the other aspects of the Say Yes Buffalo Partnership and associated overhead.

“In this process, we were looking for an agency that both understands the work we’re doing in the Buffalo Public Schools and that can enhance our ability to do that work,” said David Rust, Executive Director of Say Yes Buffalo. “Child & Family’s reputation for serving children and families in Buffalo through quality programs is well-established and we look forward to embarking on this new partnership.”

Erie County began funding the Say Yes School-Based Preventive Program in 2014 after Say Yes to Education committed to covering 38% of the Program’s costs, making it possible for the county to access the remaining 62% needed from a (previously untapped) pool of New York State mandated preventive funds.

The Program is unique in that it embeds preventive services within a school building where caseworkers have daily access to their student clients and where they can more quickly identify problem behaviors or family issues that have the potential to escalate. Traditional preventive programs are community based and often implemented only after an issue has escalated and Child Protective Services becomes involved.

The services the School-Based Program provides include:

  • Providing students’ and families’ with access to services to address basic needs
  • Connecting the student and/or family to school and community-based services and supports including healthcare, mental health services, after school programs and assistance with obtaining basic needs
  • Individual and group mentoring for the student and/or family
  • Home visits to meet with students and their families
  • Assistance for families with navigating school processes including registration and enrollment and parent-teacher conferences

Through the county’s RFP process Child & Family Services was selected over two other local human services agencies that also applied. They will succeed Catholic Charities of Buffalo as the agency partner of record for Say Yes Buffalo and its School-Based Preventive Program. This means that all Say Yes staff will transition from being employed by Catholic Charities to being employed by Child & Family Services. No positions will be eliminated in the transition and no employees will lose their jobs. Catholic Charities did not submit a proposal for the new contract.

“For over 140 years Child & Family Services has served children in need in our community,” said Francisco Vasquez, President and CEO of Child & Family Services. “We look forward to engaging in this new partnership. I have no doubt that this new alliance will increase access to preventive services and benefit many of Buffalo’s young people and their families so that barriers to academic success can be mitigated and students can ultimately graduate high school and go on to earn a postsecondary degree.”

Since Say Yes launched its work in 2012 it has quickly grown from a group of volunteer leaders to a full-time staff of 73. This includes 56 Family Support Specialists, one in every Buffalo Public School building, to implement the School-Based Preventive Program, 7 supervisors for that Program and a team of ten who manage the scholarship, mentoring and summer camp programs as well as the overarching partnership that governs the community-based effort. In addition to the School Based Preventive Program, Say Yes currently facilitates mental health clinics in 42 of Buffalo’s public schools, legal clinics for students and parents to get advice on non-criminal matters, a mentoring program to help graduating high school seniors make a successful transition to college, a summer program for grades K-6 aimed at preventing summer-learning-loss and provides tuition scholarships to all eligible graduates of Buffalo’s public and charter schools.

Since Say Yes began offering scholarships and facilitating services there has been a 12 percentage point increase in the public high school graduation rate in Buffalo and a 10 percentage point increase in the number of public school graduates who matriculated to college.

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