Clay Community Schools may be a small corporation in comparison to some of the neighboring communities, but the wide array of specialty services offered by the corporation is impressive.
Families are offered the help of several different local agencies and organizations to give their students the best possible chance to succeed.
The Step Ahead/Literacy Council was formed when the state mandated a council be brought together of local agencies to give preschoolers a better chance of succeeding when making the jump to school.
The Step Ahead/Literacy Council serves as a governing board for many of the grant-funded programs in the corporation, including the LEAAP Center and Kids, Families and Community.
The council also offers its members the chance to share information and contacts with other child-based services and a place to problem-solve as a community, during monthly meetings at the Clay County YMCA.
The LEAAP Center, 501 E. Jackson St., Brazil, offers educational support to all ages.
Preschool is offered for children ages 3-5, and parents are offered many different learning opportunities.
The preschool classes are divided by age level, and are taught by certified teaching staff.
Adults can take classes from Ivy Tech, brush up on basic reading and math skills or work to complete their GED.
Also, through the family literacy program, parents can work on reading skills while the LEAAP Center provides child care. Through the program, there are parenting classes and structured family activities to enhance the parent-child relationship.
"Educating the parents is a way to break the cycle of poverty," Mary Yelton, Director of the LEAAP Center, said.
Operating within the LEAAP Center is CASY, the Community Alliance and Services for Young Children.
CASY helps with child care placement and vouchers among other information about finding the right child care for the right family.
All of the programs offered by the LEAAP Center are centered on giving the whole family an opportunity to prepare children for succeeding in a school environment and supporting them from home.
Another organization under the Literacy Council's umbrella is the Kids, Families and Community (KFC) program.
KFC partners with five elementary schools (Eastside, Meridian, Forest Park, Van Buren and Staunton) to address all of the needs of students who are struggling in the classroom.
Julie Romas, coordinator of KFC, said students are recommended by school staff to the KFC program, and assigned a case manager.
KFC then works with local agencies and organizations to give the student and family what they need to support the child.
Items such as school clothing, groceries and school supplies are often needed by the families.
The families are also offered counseling resources from the Hamilton Center.
Case managers complete home visits and keep in contact with the family to make sure the children have what they need to succeed.
During the 2006-07 school year, 172 home visits were completed and more than 800 home contacts were made.
Teachers reported improvement in attendance, behavior and grades from students who participated in the KFC program.
Also assisting Clay County students is the Hamilton Center.
The Hamilton Center provides counseling for students who are recommended by their administrators.
Recommendations can be for behavioral reasons, or if a school counselor does not feel comfortable handling the situation.
The Hamilton Center also deals with addiction counseling.
Another component of supporting Clay County students has been the addition of the Cumberland Academy.
The Academy, which is located behind North Clay Middle School, is an alternative school available to students who are struggling in the traditional classroom.
Students are referred from the middle and high schools, and are evaluated by a placement committee to see if they will succeed in the smaller school environment.
These organizations and support programs for students help achieve succeed when traditional education might not address the true needs of the student.
"Everyone needs and deserves an education," Yelton said.