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She was a bright, inquisitive student—but when I asked about her plans for college, her face went blank. Growing up in the foster system, she never thought to dream of college. Through a project for foster children, we got her on the road to higher learning and secured $20,000 in scholarships for Cal State Northridge. And she didn’t stop there—she went on to get her master’s and is on track to become a licensed social worker.

Every Pupil Services and Attendance Counselor has stories like this. That’s the power of what we can do: We can change the trajectory of a student’s life.

Our main job is to address issues that keep students from school. We are a bridge between classroom and home, helping students with high absentee rates come back and helping teachers understand why someone might be acting out.

Home visits are a critical part of our job. The families we work with are often in survival mode, struggling with health, housing, economic, and mental wellness issues. Chronic absenteeism is always a symptom of something bigger. We are here to help, whether it’s getting the student a TAP bus card so they can get to school, securing tutoring to catch them up, or connecting the family to community resources. Whatever we can do to get the student back in school and learning.

The need is great, but not every school has a Pupil Services and Attendance counselor. Many schools are forced to choose which critical services to fund. That’s not a choice schools should have to make—our students deserve all the supports that are essential to creating a healthy, thriving educational environment.

Southern California’s affordable housing crisis impacts the families I serve—and my family too. As a single mom to an amazing 10-year-old, I work a second job as a therapist and life coach to make ends meet, but paying rent is still a struggle some months. I’ve contemplated getting a roommate or downsizing to a studio. A fair pay raise would help.

Megan Brown
Pupil Services and Attendance Counselor


 

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