Back to School

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your student is prepared for the 2016-2017 academic school year.


August 2016 FREE Volume 26, Number 8VaccinationsAs summer comes to an end, one of the most important steps to get your child ready for school is to get them vaccinated. Despite the recent controversies surrounding vaccines, the federal immunization guidelines must be followed to protect your child and other children from harmful diseases. On top of that, as of July 1, 2016, personal and religious belief exemptions from vaccinations are no longer allowed in the state of California

Why are vaccinations important?

Many public health organizations including the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) — have a list of vaccines recommended for infants, children, adolescents and adults to promote health and wellness. The vaccines listed on their websites are administered to prevent infectious diseases and are highly effective at stopping the spread of otherwise dangerous and deadly illnesses. The WHO estimates that every year, 2.5 million deaths are avoided throughout the world with vaccinations. Additionally, if immunizations were 100 percent effective and 100 percent of the people followed recommendations, one out of seven cases of child mortality could be prevented, especially in developing countries, but also in places such as California. To illustrate the efficacy of vaccines, throughout the past century, diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella have been essentially eradicated through following immunization orders in the United States.

How do vaccines work?

  • A vaccine is comprised of a weakened version of a virus (disease germ).
  • When the vaccine is injected into the body, it triggers a response in the immune system and produces antibodies to fight off the virus.
  • Your body remembers how to fight the antibodies, creating immunity.
  • If disease germs attack the body, then immunity shields the person from later getting sick

What vaccinations are required in California?

In accordance to the California health and safety codes that went into effect in July 2016, any student can be excluded from the school district if they have not been immunized. Students must have proof that they have been immunized against the following diseases:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B
  • Haemophilus influenza type b
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Whooping cough
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Chicken pox
  • Any other disease deemed appropriate by the United States Department of Health

The only exemptions from these vaccinations are for medical reasons. If it is found that your child exhibits symptoms for the disease, it will be reason to excuse your child from their school grounds.

What vaccinations are recommended?

Schedule of Vaccination

Every year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meets three times to update the schedule of recommended vaccinations for people of all ages. This board of medical experts is made up of public health officials, researchers, doctors, etc. They analyze the severity of a virus and the age in which a virus is suggested to be given. They also research the overall impact of the vaccine how many people would get sick if there were no vaccine?

In conjunction with the CDC, the ACIP gives a final recommendation that includes the number of doses for each vaccine; the time between each dose; age in which your children should receive vaccine; and warnings for those who do get the vaccine.

School Meal Programs

The United States Department of Agriculture oversees the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which provides free or reduced meals to students from families with low incomes. In California, the Department of Education is responsible for NSLP, making sure each student consumes the recommended amount of

nutrients for meals at school. In other words, NSLP makes sure that nutrition meets affordability.

Why is school lunch important?

Studies show school lunches support students’ attentiveness in class and overall academic success. Reports show a correlation between eating school meals and fewer attendance and discipline issues. Moreover, students who eat school meals obtain higher math scores. Especially since 2012, with the implementation of healthy meal standards in public schools, more children are getting the nutrition they need to thrive in a classroom setting. School lunches today protect children from hunger and have a tremendous impact on student health, stopping the onset of illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes. With fresh ingredients and a menu dedicated to making sure your child gets the nutrients they need, school lunches help students live a healthy lifestyle now and for years to come.

Free or reduced lunch and breakfast programs in California

For the 2016 school year, participants of the Child Nutrition Programs must meet the requirements at right to be eligible for free or reduced meals at school. For questions on income eligibility for reduced or free meal services, contact the Nutrition Services Division at 1-800-952-5609.

Free meals,snacks, and Milk


CalFresh, which is federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provides a means for healthy and nutritious meals to qualifying individuals and households. CalFresh can help ensure your student is well fed. The purpose of CalFresh is to improve the health and well- being of lowincome households and individuals by supplying them with a resource to meet their nutritional needs. This program issues electronic benefits that can be used to buy most foods at many food markets and stores. CalFresh Benefits can be used to purchase food for human consumption, as well as seeds and plants to grow food for household use.

How do you apply for CalFresh?

In California each county has a slightly different way of applying for CalFresh. You may apply online at or you can apply by mailing or delivering your application to your local county office. You can also request an application by phone, fax, in person or by mail from your county office. No matter where in California, the application is free. To find out how to apply for benefits in your county, please call the toll free number 1-877-847-3663. Complete as much of your application as you can. At minimum, your name, address and signature are necessary to be accepted by the local CalFresh office.

When your application has been turned in, the county welfare department will set up an interview to go over your application. Here is a list of what you need to bring to the interview:

  • Proof of identity (driver’s license, etc.) and alien status
  • Social Security numbers for all household members
  • If employed, proof of income (wage stubs, earning statements, etc.) for the past 30 days,
  • Bank statement for checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, credit union accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, dividends, etc., proof of shelter costs ( rent or mortgage payment, lot rent, household, real estate, taxes, utility bills- heat, electricity, water/sewage/ garbage/telephone, etc.)

As soon as all necessary information is provided and verified for eligibility, you will be able to receive your CalFresh benefits within 30 days of your dated application.

Before providing any confidential information ensure that you are working directly with someone from the California Department of Social Services.

What are the eligibility requirements for CalFresh?

Households in which all members are authorized or receiving cash aid, such as CalWORKS or GA/GR, are considered categorically eligible. This means the CalFresh Program accepts eligibility determinations made by the other programs. CalFresh Households containing California Food Assistance (CFAP) recipients are not categorically eligible. CalFresh eligibility is available to most lawfully- present immigrants who:

  • Have lived in the country (in a qualified status) for five years
  • Are receiving disability-related assistance or benefits, regardless of entry date
  • Are children under 18 years of age who are qualified and lawfully-admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationalization Act

California also has a program for immigrants who have not lived in the state for five years, but have a lawful permanent resident status or “qualified” immigration status and meet all other program eligibility criteria. This CalFresh Program is known as the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

The main determinant of eligibility for CalFresh is income. The maximum gross income accepted is no more than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, dependent upon household size. Gross income includes all non-excludable income, from any source including earned and unearned income.

If you receive CalFresh, there are potential rules you may need to adhere to. You may need to take part in certain employment and training activities such as searching for work, performing community service, or going to school or training. Your county representative will tell you if you need to participate in any of the former activities.

Income Table

Student Attendance

One day of school missed is a lost opportunity for a student to learn. The myth that attendance only matters in high school has long been broken by education researchers. Research has concluded that even in early grades of elementary, repeatedly missing two to three days a month can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to read. Studies have found that even if children attend preschool and Head Start programs, if they miss 10% of their kindergarten and first grade year, by third grade they score an average of 60 points lower than those who had a consistent attendance. An excused absence impacts students in the same way that unexcused absences do and should be treated the same. Children, no matter the age, are negatively impacted if they are not consistently in school.


Attendance also makes more of a difference for children of low income families. Research has found that children of low income families who are frequently absent, are at a significant disadvantage than those from affluent families. Education has an equalizing effect in America, but this effect quickly fades when consistent attendance is not maintained. Lower literacy ability and math skills are the most apparent disadvantages that can easily occur.

On the other hand, low income children that attend school regularly benefit most academically from early schooling. Compared to children from affluent families and with good attendance, children from low income families with good attendance gain almost 8 percent more literacy skills per month during kindergarten and almost 7 percent more per month during first grade. In simple terms, children from low income families learn more than those in affluent families in their first few years of schooling.

Research on differences in absentee rates were observed as early as kindergarten, and students who eventually dropped out of high school missed significantly more days of school in first grade than their peers who graduated from high school. In eighth grade, this pattern was even more apparent and, by ninth grade, attendance was shown to be a key indicator significantly correlated with high school graduation. Attendance the first year of high school is a strong indicator of whether or not a student will complete high school. Research also supports that attendance, as well as studying, was a much larger indicator of whether or not a student will graduate high school.


In addition, California’s education law requires children between the ages of 6 to 18 years of age to attend school with a limited number of absences. A student without a valid excuse, who misses up to three full days of school within a year, or is tardy or absent from class for more than 30 minutes on three occasions in one school year, is considered “truant.” Once a student is “truant” state law requires schools, districts, counties and courts to intervene to ensure that the guardian and student receive services to assist them in complying with education attendance laws.

Truant records stay with the student for a period of no less than two years. Even if the student transfers or graduates from that school, truant warnings can be sent from the previous school to alert the faculty.

Penalties for parents of declared truant students include fines up to $2,000, parent education courses, counseling, community service and imprisonment. These interventions and penalties are enforced to make sure students remain in school and are set to succeed. Truant students also have many penalties to face themselves. Students can face penalties such as: weekend or after school study programs, attendance review board, truancy remediation program, community service, fines, truancy prevention programs, and suspension and revocation of driving privileges.

Homework is also a huge part of a student’s academic success. Research has found that the amount of homework that a student completes has a direct link to the students test scores. Students completing homework will gain higher test scores than those who are not.

School Supplies

Your child’s school may provide all or some school supplies, but it is common that students are required to bring their own supplies, especially as they move up in grade level. Usually teachers will provide students with a supplies list on the first day of instruction. If your student is not given a supply list, you should make sure you have the following supplies for your student:

  • Backpack
  • No. 2 pencils and Erasers
  • Black or blue pens
  • Binder or folders
  • Binder paper and/or notebooks

If you need to financially plan for school supplies purchases, contact the school administration or teacher and ask for a supply list before the school year begins.

Local nonprofits and churches may also be able to assist you in obtaining school supplies for your child. You can also ask you school administration and they should be able to suggest a few programs that offer free supplies to students who need them. In addition, Salvation Army partners with local stores to provide students with backpacks and supplies.