Renton Area Youth and Family Services Programs
Youth Development/Drop-out Prevention
RAYS “Spark THIS” Program operates at three middle schools and two high schools in Renton in order to work with those youth most at risk of dropping out of school. The program includes one-on-one coaching, social/emotional skills groups, community service and recreational opportunities, parent support, case management, and youth leadership opportunities. This program collaborates with the Renton School District.
Family Support Services
Services offered to families out of RAYS’ Skyway Family Center include emergency assistance; a technology lab; a summer lunch program; information/referral; a holiday assistance program; a Play & Learn group; and Kincare Support Services for low-income grandmothers struggling to raise their grandchildren or other kin. RAYS works with first time, young parents through the Healthy Start Collaborative.
Mental Health Services
RAYS provides child, youth & family counseling directly in Tukwila and Renton public schools and at its center. These services work with students and their families to address emotional and behavioral issues often associated with low-income families facing a variety of stressful situations. As a State-licensed Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Center, RAYS provides assessment, individual/family counseling, and aftercare for youth.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Over the past three years, RAYS’ Spark THIS Program has more fully integrated its services within the Renton School District. Two changes include:
- Greater collaboration with the Academic Liaisons in the middle schools. Through greater collaboration, RAYS onsite staff at the schools and the Academic Liaisons are able to meet the needs of a greater number of middle school students who are at risk for school failure.
- A groundbreaking data sharing agreement that provides RAYS with easier access to extensive student information. The consistent access to data allows program staff to better track student performance, including missing assignments, academics, and behavior. As a result, staff can be better prepared to work with students and more responsive to their needs. During goal setting and review, staff are also better able to hold youth accountable for meeting their academic and behavioral goals.
RAYS has an urgent need for general support funding, which provides the organization with the flexibility to respond to urgent community needs. For example, RAYS has utilized general support funds to provide emergency support for families in crisis—such as those risking eviction because they are unable to make a rent payment. This assistance provides a lifeline for these families. Another urgent need is to expand support to kinship foster care families, where grandparents often struggle financially and emotionally to raise their grandkids.