Fresno Unified increases emotional and social support services for students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified students will have added social and emotional support staff on hand this year. The district is adding more counselors, psychologists and social workers to help students transition back to in-person learning.

Fresno High senior Aniya Franklin knows firsthand the emotional and social challenges that students face.

"Being at home all the time, it wasn't helping," said Franklin.

She credits the FUSD support staff for helping her navigate the hurdles of high school.

"Meeting with her, speaking about past trauma and moving on, it helped a lot," added Franklin.

As students return from a year of distance learning, they'll have more social and emotional resources at their disposal than ever before.

"Many of our students come from homes where there's trauma," said Ambra O'Connor, Executive Director of the FUSD Department of Prevention and Intervention. "They might have experienced trauma, the loss of family members during the pandemic, so we want them to have additional support to really be proactive."

They've hired additional counselors, intervention specialists and are launching "FUSD Connect," a program committed to helping students with suicidal behavior.

"We know the risk of suicide has increased during the pandemic nationally, not only locally," said O'Connor.

They've also added two wellness pods in the district. Offices housed at McLane High School, with a team of social workers and psychologists on hand, ready to travel as needed. All to help kids as they transition back to in person learning.

"Even when we returned back to school in April, there were some students that struggled with returning," added FUSD Student Support Services Manager Chia Vang.

To help students like Aniya as they come back to campus.

"It's helped a lot," added Franklin. "Just feeling like you have someone there to support you because this is new to all of us."
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.