Bilingual Parent Liaisons Expand Family Support

Darlene Ramirez and Arabela Valladares have joined the Taylor ISD Family Support Services team as bilingual parent liaisons. They are both from Taylor and know the community well, and they are excited about helping local families.    

“They have a heart for this job and they care about our families,” said John Matthews, Family Support Services Coordinator. “We are going out into the community and helping connect parents with the services they need.”

Valladares has previously worked in the medical field and is able to guide families to contacts that may be able to help with health concerns.

“When I heard about this program, it sounded a lot like the work I’ve done in the past in helping the community,” said Valladares. “But in this case, it’s the students and families in the school district. If they need healthcare, I am able to help them with who to talk to and the paperwork they’ll need. 

Ramirez brings a variety of experiences to the role from her previous work with the district’s Even Start and migrant programs and Duck University. She has also served as a mentor.

“I’m just really glad to be back,” Ramirez said. “To have the opportunity of helping parents and students access the resources they may need to be successful, that’s always been something that I’ve done and so I’m really excited.”

So far, the team has been assisting campuses with home visits. Through community partnerships and donations, they have delivered groceries to families in need and have distributed 200 backpacks full of school supplies. During the year they also sponsor Midnight Basketball, MUNCH (Mentor at Lunch), Coats for Kids and weekend backpack meals. They also help families obtain medical services, eyeglasses and clothing.

“Anytime you have medical issues it tends to be very stressful, and Arabela can make that a straight-line process and that’s a lot of stress off our families,” said Matthews. “She can also suggest where to go for counseling for family situations where they don’t have anyone to talk to. Darlene has worked with migrant services and finance and her background is going to help us in that capacity. Everything we do helps meet the needs of students so they are prepared to learn.”

The additional help came after Taylor ISD Superintendent, Dr. Devin Padavil, shared news of the additional positions with Matthews.

“Dr. Padavil made use of additional federal funds focused on returning students to classrooms to create two bilingual parent liaison positions’,” Matthews said. “We are doing what I would typically do, but now we are able to cover more area and dig a little deeper and do more to meet the needs of our families.”

Ramirez and Valladares are both bilingual. They both graduated from Taylor High School and call Taylor home. They are also able to relate to many of the challenges families are experiencing.

“We are already a part of the community and have been a part of the community for so long that we are able to connect a little easier to certain situations” Valladares said. “I am currently a single mom to a student in the district so I know a lot of the struggles single parents and families are going through.”

“Once a Duck, Always A Duck,” said Ramirez. “I grew up in Taylor, graduated from Taylor and my children are from Taylor. This is my community and this is where I want to be and these are the students and parents I want to help. I am proud to be a part of the community and a part of the district.”

Matthews moved to Taylor to coordinate the head start program before working for the school district. His wife Angela is a Taylor graduate and they are both active in the community as well. He has been with Taylor ISD for the past seventeen years.

“We want families to know that we have all walked in their shoes, and everybody at some time needs help,” Matthews said. “Everything we do is free; we never charge for anything. If you feel like you need services or have a question about it, just call us at 512-352-3910 and leave a message in either English or Spanish. You can also go through the school nurse or counselor and ask for family support.”

Taylor ISD Family Support Services depends on donations from the community for everything they purchase. Anyone wanting to make a donation or volunteer their time is encouraged to call 512-352-3910.

  

Photo 1: Taylor ISD Family Services Coordinator, John Matthews, meets with new parent liaisons, Arabela Valadares (left) and Darlene Ramirez to plan for connecting with families this year. 

 

Photo 2: Taylor ISD parent liaisons, Arabela Valladares (left) and Darlene Ramirez lead a fun activity with a group of students during lunch. They will work with John Matthews to launch the MUNCH (Mentor at Lunch) program as soon as COVID protocols will allow visitors on campus again.