Transforming Students, Families, and Schools

Child First’s programming is a strategy towards an end.  Each community school has a full-time community school coordinator that develops partnerships and services for each specific school community in addition to increasing parent and community engagement.  Through their work and that of their partner organizations, the community school coordinator addresses needs such as: mental health, homelessness, food access, fatherhood and parenting classes, attendance and absenteeism, workforce development, academic supports, and adult education.  One family at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School was supported through their experience with homelessness.

After numerous attempts to reach a homeless family, the community school coordinator had exhausted all avenues to locate this family of nine with 8 children, 6 of whom attended Robert W. Coleman.  Finally in August, the mother who struggles with mental illness, called the school with the family’s new address.  However, the family was now living in a hotel room in Baltimore County.  The mother came to school and completed an application for homelessness services and transportation, but it would take at least 3 weeks for the children to receive bus transportation.  In the interim, the community school coordinator shared the family’s situation with the team at Child First and learned of a grant for transportation for unique situations like this.  Two cabs picked up the 6 children for 3 weeks – dropped them off at school by 7:00 am and returned at 2:25 pm for the trip back to the hotel in Baltimore County. By the fourth week, Baltimore City Schools provided bus transportation. 

In addition, the community school coordinator was able to provide the children with school uniforms, school supplies, and food backpacks for the weekend and bi-weekly received food from the Maryland Food Bank. The family was adopted by Coppin State University for Christmas, and everyone in the family was given gifts.  This family now has a home, and the children are able to use the mass transit bus to attend school.

Last school year, Child First community school coordinators leveraged over $1.6 M in financial and in-kind resources for their schools.  Like the Robert W. Coleman family, these leveraged resources allow parents to access resources that meet their individual needs and support the stability of their families.  Students win as well because expanded resources are brought to bear in the areas of additional academic mentors, innovative curriculum such as Project-Based Learning, and models through The Positive School Center that improve school culture and climate. 

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Give a gift and watch it make a difference. Here are a few things even a modest gift can do for our students:
1995/1996
1995/1996
Voter accountability session with the Mayoral candidates; Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development organized listening campaign with citizens that identified afterschool programming as key need in the city; City Ordinance granted that created Baltimore Child First Authority.
1996
1996
Kermit "KC" Burton named first Executive Director of Child First Authority.
1997
1997
Carol Dunston Reckling named Executive Director.
1997
1997
Governor Parris Glendening earmarked $500,000 in dedicated state funding to Child First Authority; earmark still exist in state budget today.
2000
2000
Grant from Abell Foundation to develop our own curriculum to boost academics in Out of School Time Program.
2000
2000
Received initial funding from
Family League of Baltimore.
2002
2002
“We are not leaving without a meeting.” Action against Department of Human Resources to maintain state earmark.
2004
2004
CFA held the first Show What You Know student showcase.
2008
2008
High Expectations - In partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools Office of Partnerships, Communications & Community Engagement, CFA worked with William H. Lemmel and Garrison Middle School students to create a school climate and culture that supports relationships of trust with students and their parents and facilitates intervention strategies.
2009
2009
CFA began CFA Art Core, an initiative that placed visual and performing community artists at each afterschool site to facilitate high-quality arts instruction.
2009
2009
Baltimore Education Coalition created and Child First serves as a lead organizing member
2012
2012
Family League launches Community School Strategy and CFA becomes lead agency for community schools and OST sites
2015
2015
CFA plays pivotal role in 21st Century Building Design process at Dorothy I. Height Elementary School (then John Eager Howard)
2016
2016
Carol Reckling retires after 19 years at the helm
2016
2016
Danista E. Hunte named 3rd Executive Director
2020
COVID-19
RESPONSE
2020
CFA Family and Community Engagement Team established during the global COVID-19 pandemic to share community resources and to provide family engagement workshops and events for parents and community
2020
2020
14 Community School Sites and OST sites
2020-21
2020-21
Provided virtual programming to children and families all while living through a global pandemic
2021
2021
Celebrating 25 Years!
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1995/1996
The Beginning
1996
CFA's First Executive Director Appointed
1997
Carol Dunston take charge
1997
$500,000 in State funding
2000
Support From the Abell Foundation
2000
Support From the Family League
2002
Funding In Jeopardy
2004
Spotlight on the kids
2008
High Expectations
2009
Art Core
2009
CFA Leads
2012
Community Schools
2015
21st Century Schools
2016
Carol Reckling retires
2016
Danista Hunte
2020
Covid-19 Response
2020
14
2020-21
Virtual Programming
2021
25 Years!
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