The Newport Family & Child Opportunity Zone (NFCOZ) was founded over twenty-three years ago as part of a Rhode Island statewide initiative to develop Child Opportunity Zones (COZ) across the state to support children's success in school. There are ten COZ Family Centers across the state, each with the same guiding principles, yet flexible to respond to the unique needs of each community.
COZ Family Centers follow the national community schools model, creating partnerships among families, schools, and the community to coordinate comprehensive academic, social, and health services for students, students’ family members, and community members that will result in improved educational outcomes for children. COZs increase parent participation in their child’s school and education. Research shows that increased parental involvement is an indicator of future school success.
The vision of the NFCOZ is that every child and family served shall have seamless and comprehensive supports available to them in order to succeed academically, socially, emotionally, and lead a life of health and wellness in a rapidly changing world. Our mission is to provide services and referrals to Newport children and their families in school and community settings in partnership with Newport Public Schools, partnership school districts, parents, and the community.
Services offered by the NFCOZ are available for all children from birth to grade four and their families residing in Newport, Rhode Island and birth to grade eight in Middletown. Programs focus on children’s learning, physical and mental health, and parent support and education. Experienced youth development staff work with children to develop social and emotional competencies and develop resiliency. This work is important for youth to build protective factors and improve engagement with schools. Engaged youth are more likely to have better attendance at school, engage in healthy behavior, and set goals for the future.
· Early Childhood Services offered to Newport and Middletown families improve parent knowledge of child development, develop parenting capabilities, and promote school readiness through personal visits utilizing a national scientifically valid and research-based early childhood curriculum called Parents as Teachers. This program is now managed by the Family Development Component at East Bay Community Action Program in partnership with the COZ program.
· School Age Services in Newport include the Community Learning Center which provides comprehensive after school, school vacation week and summer programs, designed to expand learning time throughout the school day/year with intensive academic support, blended with physical activity, cultural, recreational, artistic, and service learning enrichment opportunities; and the Champion Childcare Program at Pell which is a 4 Star licensed before and after school childcare program offered daily during the school year. In Middletown, out of school time programs include after school enrichment at Aquidneck and Forest Avenue Elementary Schools and Gaudet Middle School, school vacation camps, and an eight week summer camp program.
· Family Programs including the Family Service Coordination Program, connect parents with essential community resources, improve parenting skills, provide educational opportunities, help families to be more involved in their children’s education, encourage daily school attendance, assist children with transitions, and reduce social isolation.
· The Backpack Program provides a weekly backpack of food for enrolled children to eat during the weekend when food can be scarce for families.
Across components, we have a strong focus on the promotion of health and wellness and creating healthy lifestyles. The NFCOZ has developed strong partnerships with Newport Public Schools and Middletown Public Schools. We have created seamless relationships with the elementary school and wrap around programs build upon the school day and respond to the needs of the school population as identified by parents, teachers, school administrators, and students.
The NFCOZ receives funding from federal, state, and private sources. Our current funders are:
- United States Department of Education
- Rhode Island Department of Education
- van Beuren Charitable Foundation
- North Family Trust
- The Newport Partnership for Families, Reading Reaps Rewards (R3) Initiative
- Newport Public Schools, Title I
- McKinney-Vento Homeless Grant (through Newport Public Schools)
- John Clarke Trust
- Donations and fees
Our Core Staff Team
Christine Arouth, NFCOZ Director
Samantha Brinz, Director of Quality Initiatives
Student and Family Supports Team
Rebekah Rosen-Gomez, Family Services Manager
Mark McKenna, Family Service Coordinator
Matthew Thadeio, Student and Family Engagement Specialist
Lori Russell, Champion Childcare Coordinator
Erin Hallene, CLC Site Coordinator
Hannah Kahn, CLC Site Coordinator
Abigail Dunn, MCOZ Coordinator
Out of School Time Team
Lead Teachers: Katie Behan-Homer, Jenna Banky, Erin Riemer
Teacher Assistants: Doreen Noponen, Janet Sotelo, Mushiana Bentley, Matt Boisvert, and Olivia Seymour.