State Farm Neighborhood Assist ® 2018

The LaFontaine Learning Academy an extension of Flint Community Schools

Provide a quality education and meet the unique needs of the children at Whaley Children's Center.

The children who reside at Whaley Children's Center (WCC) range between the ages of 5 to 17 and are all foster children who come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect. They come to the Center after being in approximately 4 to 6 foster care homes which, for many of them, has made it difficult to regularly attend school. Although some of the children attend public school, the majority of them attend the on-grounds school, the LaFontaine Learning Academy (LLA). These children are not a good fit for mainstream, public education and have an individualized education plan (IEP) to help them learn with a smaller classroom size and closer supervision to help meet their unique needs. Without this school, there would be no other educational options in the Flint community to meet the children's individual needs. The school was built in the 1970's and needs renovations to not only maintain a positive learning environment, but give the children pride in the school that they attend.

Past funding we received for the LLA was used for programs or to hire more educational providers to help our growing population and need. This has taken precedence because our goal is to provide the children who attend our school the same opportunities as the kids at public school. Because of this, the structure of the school was overlooked. With this funding we would add air conditioning to our recreational area; replace the floors throughout; and add a sensory room. Air conditioning is needed in the rec space because it cannot be used in the warmer months. When children have rec time the space gets hot and can cause our kids to struggle or lose interest in the activity. The floors have not been replaced in over 20 years. The carpet is ripped and the tile is overly worn. Lastly, the sensory room will give our children who are experiencing trauma based behaviors an opportunity to sooth themselves in a safe space that is still part of their regular learning environment.

Since the LLA is the only school that can offer educational opportunities for the children at WCC it is very important to maintain the school and continue to provide a safe place to learn for the kids. With new flooring and air conditioning in the recreational space, it would allow us to continue to provide an education in a place that the children could be proud to call their school. By adding the sensory room it would allow us to address the growing needs of our population and serve any new children to come. This grant would help us continue our school to ensure that it is able to educate our children into the next 20 years.