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CHILDREN FIRST: Communities In Schools of Buncombe County Impact Report Released

Asheville, NC-January 30, 2018 –   Children First/Communities In Schools (CIS) of Buncombe County released an Impact Report that includes new data on how the organization continues to help remove barriers for students and families who are unable to afford basic necessities, housing and medical care, providing resources, and surrounding students with a community of support. This report can be viewed

This year’s report focuses on the importance of managing and improving attendance, behaviors, course-work and opportunities for parent engagement (ABC+P). Research shows that when a student is on track with ABC+P, they are more likely to succeed in school and graduate.

Natasha Adwaters, the newly appointed Executive Director of Children First/CIS, recognizes that instilling a love of learning begins at the elementary-school level.  “Research is showing that the elementary school years are crucial for a child’s future success. For instance, if a child is not reading at grade level by the third grade, they are 4 times more likely to drop out of school during high-school. Our job is to make sure elementary-school aged children have the tools they need to be able to come to school ready to learn. These tools range from basic necessities such as food, clothing, and housing as well as tutoring and empowerment opportunities for the child and their parents.”

Children First/CIS provides these tools both in and out of the schools through their Project POWER/AmeriCorps, Student Support Specialist and after-school programs. By providing intensive one-on-one supports such as small group sessions, tutoring, homework help, enrichment activities and daily check-ins, the staff of Children First/CIS connect with our most vulnerable students to make sure they have the resources they need to thrive. 

For example, Christina is the mother of a 5th grader. She tells of her daughter’s long-time anxiety about attending school, which led to chronic absences. “My daughter has had problems with anxiety, especially when it came to going to school,” she says.

Studies have shown that chronic absenteeism is a major barrier to a child’s success in school- if a child is not in school, they cannot learn. Students who are absent three or more times a year by the 3rd grade are twice as likely to drop out of high school.

But Christina has noticed a significant change in her daughter’s attitude about school since she started working with Children First/CIS Student Support Specialist at Eblen Intermediate, Dani Wilber. “My daughter is enrolled in Dani’s after-school programs (Working Warriors and Homework Club) and this is the first year that she is actually excited about going to school. It used to be so hard to get her out the door before, but on the days that she knows she is going to see Dani, she is jumping to get out the door! Having Dani as “her person” at school has made a ton of difference for our daughter.”

Children First/CIS achieved the following: 

  • 4,422 children in Buncombe County, or 10% of all children living in Buncombe County, received a service through Children First/CIS programming in schools and communities. These programs are in the schools and during after-school to provide academic assistance, enrichment activities, mentoring, holiday assistance, food, clothing, school supply resources, and school supports.
  • 200 families were served with Children First/CIS direct services and programming that helped prevent short-term crisis that could lead to homelessness and/or food insecurity.
  • 293 parents were empowered through our Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) classes Motheread literacy classes and parenting workshops.
  • Children First/CIS Success Equation partnered with other advocates to see the culmination of decades-long work to raise the age of juvenile sentencing. Starting in 2019, North Carolina’s 16 and 17 year-old offenders will no longer be placed into the adult criminal system and will instead go into the juvenile justice system where they can continue their education and receive treatment.
  • Children First/CIS Success Equation works to increase city and county investment in housing affordability. The result is new funding and policies for more housing options connected by bus, sidewalks and greenways that local families can afford.


“Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive,” says Ms. Adwaters. “It is our responsibility as a community to ensure that every child, regardless of their economic background, has the tools they need and opportunities to succeed. We are proud of the work we are doing, but we know there is much more work to do. We look forward to another year of collaborating with our partners and supporters to secure children’s futures.”


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Children First/Communities In Schools (CIS) is a local non-profit that believes that all children deserve to reach their full potential. They help achieve this by surrounding children and their families with supports to help them succeed in school and life. With staff placed in schools and communities that have a high rate of economic insecurity, Children First/CIS help children and families meet their basic needs, provide educational supports and teach parenting and resiliency skills. We are unique in that along with our direct services we also provide strong advocacy to local and state leaders to ensure public policies are in place to support families.

Jodi Ford

Outreach and Engagement Coordinator

Children First/Communities In Schools


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SheVille Team

We are a one-of-a-kind magazine that provides local, regional, national and international information about women’s lives and education, performing and visual arts and writing, the environment, green living and sustainability and regional Western North Carolina business, people and events. “Villages preserve culture: dress, food and dance are a few examples. As villages grow in population and turn into towns, local cafes make way for large American chains. Handmade leather sandals are discarded for a pair of Western sneakers. Due to its small size, a village fosters a tight-knit sense of community. explains the meaning of the African proverb, “It takes a village,” by stating that a sense of community is critical to maintaining a healthy society. Village members hold a wealth of information regarding their heritage: they know about the ancient traditions, methods of production and the resources of the land. When villages become dispersed or exterminated in times of war, this anthropological knowledge disappears. Large cities are not as conducive to growing and producing foods such as fruits and vegetables. Villages, on the other hand, usually have ample amounts of land and other resources necessary for growing conditions.” The Importance of Villages by Catherine Capozzi Our Mission provides readers with information important to women’s lives and well-being. We focus primarily on the areas of education & health, business & finance, the arts & the environment. We are particularly interested in local & regional resources, organizations & events.
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