by Holly Madden, Springfield
I am the director of Family Connection at The Connecting Grounds, a program that provides support and supervised visits for families that are working toward reunification inside the foster care system. Over the last 4 years, I have worked with dozens of families with children inside of Springfield Public Schools.
Additionally, we work to support families who have reunified and families who are at risk due to poverty-related issues like homelessness. The current averages of any given month show that there are around 800 children in Greene County in the foster care system (per Children’s Division) and 1,100 children in SPS who are homeless (per SPS McKinney-Vento Social Work Program). My days are spent supporting these children and either their current foster placement or their biological parents as they work to navigate educational support, diagnosis, mental health support, and more.
For years, Shurita Thomas-Tate has been not only a public advocate for these children, but she has served as a sounding board and a connector to the correct programs, resources, or educational leaders to ensure that a single child is receiving the right support. She has answered my calls at all hours of the day when it comes to the children, who are often not represented in decisions by most of the current SPS Board Members.
Shurita Thomas-Tate not only advocates for these children, but she strives to fill gaps to support them through the founding of Ujima, a program she pours her money and time into to provide a fun space for children to receive literacy support, a meal, and community.
This is why it’s extremely crucial that Shurita Thomas-Tate is elected to the SPS Board of Education on April 4th. If she is not elected, these children will lose a fierce advocate and voice in School Board meetings.