Wake County celebrates student- and family-focused pilot programs

Programs funded by American Rescue Plan Act

smiling child with notebook at school desk

(Joint news release with Wake County Public Schools)

Dozens of students in Wake County are receiving curated support at their public schools through two new pilot programs promoting education and well-being. The two programs, known as Neighborhood Networks and the Student Engagement Team, are in the first months of their inception.

The two have already engaged with hundreds of students and adults across nine Wake County public schools. Both programs are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, and both began in the fall of 2023. Neighborhood Networks was allocated $1.25 million, and the SET program was allocated nearly $2 million.

“Through Neighborhood Networks and the Student Engagement Team, we're not just addressing educational and well-being needs; we're building a community safety net that uplifts families,” said Chair Shinica Thomas of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “These programs help parents find resources they were not aware of in the past, enabling them to gain confidence with the support of our coaches and social workers.”

Neighborhood Networks
The Neighborhood Networks program started receiving referrals in Wake County in September 2023. The pilot is now currently underway at five elementary schools across the county, including:

  • Adams Elementary School
  • Forest Pines Elementary School
  • Forestville Road Elementary School
  • North Ridge Elementary School
  • Southeast Raleigh Elementary School

This program offers a compassionate and tailored approach to supporting families, with a focus on enhancing their strengths and fostering positive connections. Through dedicated social workers based at each student's school, families who meet criteria receive personalized support aimed at building resilience and promoting family well-being.

By collaborating with community partners and integrating services, the program aims to empower families and prevent the need for protective services, ultimately fostering healthier outcomes for both children and caregivers.

So far, 73 families have been referred to the Neighborhood Networks program. To date, 35 cases remain open.

Student Engagement Team
The SET program began as an effort to address challenges experienced by families amid the COVID-19 pandemic with mental health as a key focus. Its primary objective is to help students and families thrive by addressing social determinants of health through coaching.

SET collaborates with students and families at four designated schools through a structured coaching model, care coordination, and system of care service and development. The schools include:

  • Centennial Middle School
  • Durant Middle School
  • North Garner Middle School
  • Walnut Creek Elementary School

So far, 86 families have been referred for SET coaching. More than 100 individual resource connections have been made for SET families, and 322 adults have attended SET workshops to increase skills in working with youth. Workshop topics include youth mental health first aid and managing elevated emotions in the classroom.

"Both of these pilot programs are true collaborations between our hard-working school social workers and school counselors and our Wake County partners," said Wake County Board of Education member Toshiba Rice. "The programs already have made a real difference in the lives of dozens of students and families. We know that students who have a stable home life are much more likely to succeed in school and beyond. That’s why supporting families with their physical, financial, and mental health needs, while also strengthening the connections between school and home, are essential if we are to meet the ambitious goals set forth in our school district's Strategic Plan."

The Wake County Communications Office has pre-recorded an anonymous interview with a parent who has benefitted from the Neighborhood Networks program. The videos, one with English subtitles and one with Spanish subtitles, can be downloaded here.

Press Release