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Iowa City NEST program to continue offering support for families in different way

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:24 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Last year, with a pandemic and so many students learning virtually, people in the Iowa City area opened nearly a dozen Neighborhood NEST sites. These had a goal of supporting families and students with child care and learning support.

Missy Forbes is the director of 4Cs of Johnson County, one of the sites that opened in Iowa City last fall. Forbes helped start the program.

“We did especially that first trimester of school see a great impact. Every time the governor changed the regulations or what our school day or school year was gonna look like we shifted how things looked, so some NESTS closed, some continued,” Forbes said.

Most of the 10 NEST sites that opened, originally throughout Coralville and Iowa City, closed. However, the need for assistance didn’t go away, so they shifted how they were supporting families.

“One of the things that we could do was support families who needed that wrap-around care for hybrid school, so those days where the kids weren’t in school,” Forbes said.

They did that by providing scholarships for students to camps, pool passes to Student Family Advocates and before-and-after school camp expenses. Even this Summer, the group helps about 30 students, and they’ll look to use funding to keep providing access for students, and childcare for families.

“If a child wants to go to camp, we have some funding available to help the families out to pay for those costs. That will translate into if there’s an afterschool program a child wanted to attend and they wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford that, that would be what the scholarship would go to,” Forbes said.

Families can apply on the 4c’s website. Forbes said she hopes it can help what the pandemic underscored: not everyone always has the same access.

“I think the one thing that I really learned is to not assuming that we have the answer to what families need when families are in a crisis of a pandemic,” Forbes said.

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