For the nearly 300 children, parents or caregivers that attended the Crittenton Services for Children and Families (CSCF) Annual Back-to-School Event, on August 9, 2014 at Long Beach City College Veterans Stadium, it was a day to breathe a little easier with one less financial obligation to have to worry about.
“We understand that the back-to-school season can be extremely stressful for many parents or caregivers, in particular, Crittenton families using our community based services who oftentimes struggle to even meet daily living expenses,” said Cesar Salgado, Vice President of Wraparound Services, CSCF, “The cost associated with the growing list of supplies requested by schools during the back-to-school rush is becoming more expensive and challenging to acquire for low-income families with more than one child to have to budget for.”
According to a study released in July by the National Retail Federation, families are expected to spend an average of $669.29 on back-to-school, which includes supplies, technology needs, and clothing purchases this year. This is up five percent from 2013.
This same survey broke out back-to-school spending by grade level as well. The average family shopping for high school students will spend $682.99 this year, while spending on middle school/junior high students works out to $682.13. Those parents with elementary school-age children will roughly spend an average $580.94.
“At Crittenton we feel that we have a duty as part of our organizational mission to work together with community partners in order to make an impact in reducing the effects that neglect, trauma, or poverty have on the most vulnerable among us – children. Regardless of the reason why Crittenton families are in need of our services our main goal is to make sure that we provide the ‘whole’ family resources needed in order to stabilize the family unit and assist them to move forward with their lives,” said Salgado.
The event consisted of a range of free services offered by community partners to help ease the back-to-school obligations of local families from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. For those families that did not have reliable transportation available Crittenton went a step further and provided free transportation to the event via the organization’s transportation department.
The goal of this year’s event was twofold in that it was an opportunity to help families with a tangible need, but it was also an opportunity to promote family cohesiveness in a fun and safe environment.
Among the community partners that supported this year’s event included: Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, AltaMed, Marinello Schools of Beauty and Long Beach City College graciously provided the event space.
From free community resource information, lunch, haircuts, school supplies, fun family oriented activities and raffles the day was designed to encourage all in attendance to take advantage of the services and information being provided.
All school-aged children from pre-school to high school that attended the event received a backpack filled with school supplies at no cost.
“We wish we could have given more. I can only imagine how costs add up every August and September when a family has more than one child to purchase supplies for. We know that this event certainly doesn’t cover every school based need. However, if a family doesn’t have to sacrifice by not being able to get everything on their grocery list or not being able to pay this month’s bills I think I can say we made a positive impact in the community,” said Salgado.
Crittenton Services for Children and Families of Southern California (CSCF) is a non-profit social services agency whose mission is to heal the wounds of abuse and neglect; strengthen families; and help troubled adolescents reach their full potential. Established and incorporated in 1966 Crittenton has a highly trained workforce operating 24 hours a day / 7 days a week providing comprehensive counseling, medical, and other support services to the clients in our care. We provide a full array of residential, in-home, community based, wraparound, mental health, foster care, and adoption services with a service planning area throughout Southern California that covers Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties.