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PACT gets extension for service for parents, students in Decatur

By Ronnie Thomas . 340-2438

Parents and Children Together secured an extension for Family Assistance Through Community Ties for the first semester of next year's school term at Somerville Road Elementary School, Superintendent Sam Houston said at Tuesday's Decatur City Board of Education meeting.

Houston said the FACT program will expire at the end of this year's term.

"We need to get started on funding for the second semester and beyond so we won't have a break in services for kids there," he said.

After the meeting, Houston expounded on the benefits of FACT. He said the school system initiated the program at West Decatur Elementary two years ago, added Somerville Road Elementary last year and this year added Austinville Elementary. He said FACT puts professional resources at a family's fingertips for everything from mental health concerns to parenting.

"FACT becomes the conduit that can provide support services of all types to families," Houston said.

He cited as an example a teacher who notices a change of behavior in a student who comes to school several days without a change of clothing and who stops bringing in homework.

"She refers that child to the team to determine the problems," Houston said. "Perhaps the city has turned off utilities to the home. A mental health professional works with the parent and a circle-project coordinator contacts the Department of Human Resources. If the parent is out of a job, they work to find him or her employment."

Houston said that many students come from single-parent homes "and that parent may not know where the services are, but know where the school is. We have people through FACT who can point them to those services."

Houston said that this year alone, the program has served more than 650 families.

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