Tri-Valley Connections Program

The Tri-Valley Anti-Poverty Connections program arose from the work of the Health, Education, and Food Access Committee.  The program was designed to provide support to low-SES children and their families through educational programs and some direct service.  Each of the three Tri-Valley school districts has a distinct way of connecting with their priority populations, and the TVAPC honored these existing networks as well as the requests of the families to address a primary concern.

In Livermore, the program was administrated at Marilyn Ave Elementary School, where students are majority Hispanic (78%) and eligible for free/reduced lunch (72%).  Children in this school sometimes lag behind children in other Tri-Valley schools in the area of math and reading achievement and demonstrate poorer physical health. Marilyn Ave Elementary School has a Spanish-speaking parent education group which is facilitated by a school liaison.  Per the request of these families, a program provided family education regarding healthy sleep habits, healthy meals, and snacks, as well as information on promoting reading and creating an environment conducive to homework, and reducing stress. Presenters included a Livermore Kaiser Permanente pediatrician, familiar to many families, a Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District support specialist, and a family counselor from La Familia. The presentation was conducted in Spanish, and daycare was provided for about 40 children in a different location on the school site.  Both the children and their parents received dinner.

In the program evaluation, 93% of program participants stated that the program met their expectations. 100% of participants somewhat or completely agreed that they would be able to apply the concepts taught. 100% of participants completely agreed that the materials (handouts) were useful, that presenters were knowledgable, that the information was valuable, and that the workshop was high quality. 100% of participants completely or somewhat agreed that there was adequate time for questions and that the objectives of the program were met.  Comments included:

  • “I will make better decisions when selecting snacks for my family.”
  • “I am going to read more to my children.”
  • “Read, read, read, at least 15 minutes per day.”
  • “I will focus on nutrition, exercise, and helping my children focus their attention.”

In Pleasanton, a weekly two-hour program is held at Hearst Elementary School.  Students in this program receive music education, homework assistance, and a free meal (this meal is also provided to family members). While students are receiving this program, parents can participate in district parent education class, which provides classes on a variety of topics, from the navigation of the school district to strategies that can support their children’s health and education.  Although there are about 100 children who attend this program (most but not all are low-income first-generation Hispanic children), about 20-30 families attend the parent education group on any given night. These meetings are held in Spanish and are facilitated by the school district program liaison.  At Hearst, a relatively small number of students are English learners (around 15%) and eligible for free and reduced lunch (about 8%), but these are the students generally served in this program. Per parent request, parent education was provided specifically related to nutrition- diabetes is a significant concern to these families and their children.  Parents noted the negative impact of increasing weight on their children’s overall health and wellness, activity level, and stress. These impacts may also be adversely impacting their children’s educational performance.

A local Hispanic dietitian provided a culturally-appropriate nutrition education workshop, materials, and an interactive cooking demonstration. Program participants were highly engaged, asking questions throughout.  In the program evaluation, 100% of participants stated that the program increased their knowledge about healthy foods, that they learned valuable information that will help their family, that they are more aware of the connection between health and diet, and that they learned practical tips for cooking healthier. 92% of program participants stated they would cook and eat more healthfully as a result of the program. 100% of participants stated they would like more nutritional information through an interactive cooking class.  Comments included:

  • “I learned about the importance of fiber.”
  • “Fruit juice has a lot of sugar.”
  • “I learned how to balance portions and select healthier products.”
  • “I learned about foods with proteins.  Almond milk is better than regular milk.”

In Dublin, there is not a stable or homogeneous population of low-SES children and families.  Therefore, outreach activities between district staff and families occur throughout the year at low-income housing complexes and at Camp Parks, the local military base.  The district liaison connects about 300 families to resources related to food access, healthcare, and other types of assistance on an ongoing basis through events, fairs, talks, and coordination with housing staff.  At the school level, school psychologists provide additional support and services to children in need. One unmet need that was identified by the district and families is the lack of vision care screenings and services.  In May 2019, DUSD will increase vision screenings and, through the Sandia grant, contract with a local optometrist to provide eyeglasses to 11 additional students.

Connections Program partners included Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, Dublin Unified School District, Pleasanton Unified School District, Kaiser Permanente, La Familia Counseling Center, Open Heart Kitchen.

This program was funded by generous grants from Sandia National Laboratories and Kaiser Permanente.