Community Involvement

CIW Lieutenant encourages at‑risk youth to stay in school

CIW Lt. Andrew Mendoza stands in front of a school banner that reads "Operation Student Recovery".
The local school district and CIW Lt. Andrew Mendoza spent a morning visiting the homes of eight frequently truant students.

School district, CIW help homeless and foster care students

This is National Correctional Officers Week, which honors correctional staff everywhere for the dedication and commitment they show each and every day in their profession.

San Bernardino City Unified School District and California Institution for Women (CIW) Lt. Andrew Mendoza spent a morning visiting the homes of eight frequently truant students. The goal was simple: keep kids in school and out of trouble.

Accompanied by a school district employee, he spoke with students, parents, and guardians about the importance of attending school. They also discussed ways to cope with the challenges of distance learning. The effort, dubbed Operation Student Recovery, is part of the school district’s Positive Youth Development Department. They focused their effort’s on homeless children and those in foster care as part of Access to Learning for All Students, or ATLAS.

Aside from encouragement and guidance, students were also provided resources and supplies.

Lt. Mendoza, the public information officer for California Institution for Women (CIW), said he was grateful for the opportunity to help students. The children ranged in age from first grade to high school.

“It was nice to show our presence within the community especially for something positive,” he said. “My great grandmother was a foster parent so I know how difficult things can be for those kids, and I cannot imagine how much more difficult life would be as a homeless child.”

CIW plans to participate in future operations and will send additional staff to help reach more children.

What is ATLAS?

ATLAS liaisons and staff work with individual students and family to ensure the educational rights of all students are followed. For additional services and support, each family and student will receive assistance and/or referrals based on individual needs, according to the district.

Under federal law, students qualify as homeless if the student is living in:

  • house or apartment with more than one family for economic reasons
  • shelter or transitional living program
  • motel, hotel, or weekly rate housing
  • substandard housing (without electricity, water or heat as in a converted garage or shed)
  • or is a minor or school-aged youth who is not in the physical custody of a legal guardian.

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