CSUN’s Teaching, Learning, and Counseling Consortium (TLCC) and Family Focus Resource Center (FFRC) are bringing joy to close to 60 families this holiday season in the form of Holiday Fun Kits, children’s books and gift cards.
The TLCC provides an array of services including psycho-educational assessments and consultation, educational therapy, literacy tutoring, and individual and group counseling for children, adolescents and adults. All TLCC services are provided at no or low cost, and under the auspices of a university-affiliated collective of faculty educators, psychologists, and parents. Through no-cost education, advocacy, and family support services, the FFRC works to support and strengthen families raising children with special needs. The FFRC works in collaboration with and is a part of the TLCC in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education.
The Holiday Fun Kits, which are being distributed this month, include small toys, treats, a packet of hot chocolate and ideas for parents to keep their children busy during the winter break.
“Around the holidays, kids usually make art projects in school,” said Sue Sears, professor in the Department of Special Education and coordinator of services in the Teaching, Learning and Counseling Consortium. “This is an opportunity for them [to make] an ornament for a tree, a decoration for the home, a Hanukkah decoration; whatever it might be they can do [it] at home with their family. It’s something that was an activity they would have done at school that they’re not able to do [now].”
In addition to the Holiday Fun Kit, each child will receive a packet of 3-4 children’s books, through a generous donation from The Book Foundation, and each family will receive a $50 gift card.
“We wanted to give families the gift card because we knew that that might be something they could really use to buy necessities or maybe gifts for kids that they wouldn’t have been able to purchase otherwise,” said Sears.
The TLCC Fund a Family Holiday Campaign raised close to $3,500 for the gift cards and their distribution. CSUN’s current and retired faculty and staff, and friends contributed to the Campaign. The whole process was a team effort, said Sears.
All TLCC services continued during the pandemic but were shifted to a virtual format and without on-campus opportunities, the FFRC and the other programs in the TLCC had to engage in creative outreach efforts to fulfill the needs of families.
“It’s important for a university to be responsive to the needs of the community in which it is located,” said Sears.
In April the FFRC initiated “Project Diaper” using the FFRC van to deliver diapers to families in need. This inspired the distribution of Distance Learning Kits in October. The Distance Learning Kits included items such as a child’s nameplate, glue stick, sand timer, squeeze ball, whiteboards with markers and a “googly-eyes” eraser. At this event, PPE, diapers and parent notebooks were also distributed.
During the October event cars lined up outside the Child Development Institute in Reseda waiting to get the supplies they needed. In just one hour the FFRC ran out of PPE and Distance Learning Kits. Over 170 cars passed through the distribution center that day.
“We recognize this is really a challenging time for both kids and parents, in trying to learn from home, and we want to help in any way we can to make that a more successful and as successful as possible experience,” said Sears.