Child Guide started at the Luverne Elementary School in the 2001-02 school year. Each year, 38 percent of students at the school are referred to the Child Guide Program for unmet needs like clothing, homework help, mentorship and connecting new students and their families to school and activities in the community to make the transition easier.
“The program has become a connector for families to resources. We know that in order to help our children at school, we need to work with the entire family and community together,” said Lisa Dinger, who has been the Child Guide at Luverne Elementary School for 15 years. “When we make an impact, we see students making better choices, becoming more involved in activities and their community, seeking help without letting their pride get in the way and giving back to the programs and community that have helped them. Our goal is to change one child, one family at a time; that will change our community as a whole.”
Students are referred to Child Guide for:
- Basic needs like school supplies, clothing or winter gear
- Help finding and registering for activities, plus scholarships and transportation, if needed: “For many children this is the first time they are allowed to participate in an activity,” Lisa said.
- Academic help for students struggling with homework
- Getting new students and their families connected to school and activities in the community to make the transition easier
- Help with social challenges, and referral to the school counselor if needed
- Lining up adult mentors for kids who may need another adult role model in their life
Child Guide activities like Homework Club, author visits and Bookin’ Buddies are open to all students, with or without a referral, and 75 percent of Luverne Elementary School students participate in these yearly. Incorporating ideas from Grow Our Own has helped the Luverne be more inclusive as community members work together to close the opportunity gap.
“We have listened to those who have challenges and are working on meeting their needs with more resources and programs that fit. In the past, we did what we thought people wanted and needed instead of coming to them to find out what will truly help them to move upward and forward instead of spinning in the same circle,” Lisa said.