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Multilingual Enrollment and Support Center Guides A Growing Number of Students and Families

Staff helps thousands with enrollment, community connections

Every year, hundreds of families with school-age children arrive in Baltimore from around the world. As well as bringing unique and valued perspectives, talents, and experiences, they bring questions to answer and details to coordinate. A student’s grasp of the English language needs to be assessed, their transcript must be properly evaluated, and they need guidance as they enroll in a school. Their family may require additional support and services as they make a home here.   

For students and families like this, City Schools’ Multilingual Enrollment and Support Center is a trusted and important source of resources and information, guidance, and comfort.

Launched in 2018, the Center helps newly-arrived families navigate the process of enrolling in school and settling into their new city. The Center works with immigrants, refugees, and humanitarian parolees to evaluate language abilities and students’ academic standing, and then, in partnership with schools and district team members, facilitates the creation of individualized instructional programs that fit each student’s need. The Center’s team of multilingual professionals understand that every student coming to the district has unique experiences that are valid and welcome and that all of them deserve support. That support from the district and from schools might include intensive tutoring, translation support, or targeted English language instruction.

The support extends beyond academics. If a student needs help securing school supplies, the Center steps in. If families from warmer climates don’t have the clothes necessary for a Baltimore winter, the Center helps out and provides some. And as families adjust to our city, the Center helps connect them with community resources, whether it be community centers, recreational opportunities, residency paperwork, or home buying options. 

After noticing that an increasing number of new arrivals were seeking physical exams and medical care, the Center collaborated with the City health department so that families can now go to a free clinic every Saturday at the Mount Washington Pediatric Center. The Multilingual Enrollment and Support Center also regularly partners with organizations like the International Rescue Committee, the Refugee Youth Project at Baltimore City Community College, Soccer Without Borders, and the Maryland Office of Refugees and Asylees to identify families who need support and connect them with experiences and resources that will enrich their lives in Baltimore. 

The need for the Center’s services is growing. Since July 2021, more than 1,000 families have worked with the Center — the most ever in half a year. As a result, the Center has expanded from one staff member in 2018 to six full-time staff members today.

As Dr. Lara Ohanian, City Schools Director of Differentiated Learning puts it, “People often think of newly arrived students in terms of one profile, but in reality they come with such a wide range of abilities and needs. Some are going straight to 11th grade; some are coming in at 17 but need to start in 9th. Having staff members who understand the cultural, linguistic, and educational needs of this unique population be the first face families see as they embark on their U.S. educational experience is absolutely huge.”

To learn more about the Center’s work, click here.

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