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AISD mother thanks school district for job search help, Parent Support Specialists work continuously during pandemic

Austin ISD Parent Support Specialists are charged to identify, develop and engage parents in their child's education.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin ISD mother of two Mary Ann Cerda said an Austin ISD Parent Support Specialist helped her create a resume and get a job. Austin ISD officials said the specialists have been working continuously since the pandemic began. 

Cerda said she wouldn't be where she is today without the team. 

"You [can't] imagine how she made me feel. Me feeling confident about myself. I was just afraid," said Cerda. "I was looking for somebody to help me. I had questions because I didn't have a job. She always responds and, to me, that's really important. Communication is really important."

Credit: Mary Ann Cerda

AISD officials said the specialists help with all kinds of things like finding jobs, finding affordable housing and even offering an ear to those who need to vent. 

"Honestly, you helped me so much and I really appreciate what you have done for me because you changed my life," Cerda said to her specialist, Siglinda Orozco, who made a huge impact.

According to AISD's website, AISD Parent Support Specialists are funded 50% by the City of Austin and are placed in Title I schools. They work at schools with student populations from low-income families. 

You can find that list of schools here

"They need to have that good relationship with the school and to know that there's somebody that can help you and listen to you," said Orozco. 

"She's doing more than what she has to do because that counseling, talking about over problems and helping everybody emotionally. She's doing her job, but she's doing more and that's what makes us feel comfortable," said Cerda.

Orozco said they can't always help, but they're always there to listen.

"We [give] workshops, information about resources available in the city to become a leaders and also to support our kids, their education. To help them to be successful, we have that bridge to connect the families with different organizations, inside the district and also outside the district," said Orozco. 

Austin ISD officials said within the last school year, the specialists have provided services to almost 20,000 families, and they did see an increase within the first three months of the pandemic serving 8,000 families. 

If your family needs help from a Parent Support Specialist, you can call the Parent Engagement Support Office at 512-414-0726.

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