State’s family coach goes where the kids are in Malheur County to provide crucial help

Melissa Gonzalez, a family coach for the Department of Human Services in Ontario, travels throughout county schools to help connect students and their families with resources. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

ONTARIO – It’s a chilly Wednesday morning and Melissa Gonzalez stands outside May Roberts Elementary School, hands in pockets, as she scans the line of cars dropping off students.

She’s looking for a specific family. A teacher at the school alerted her that one of her students was currently homeless, living out of a van.

Gonzalez, a family coach for the state Department of Human Services, knows how she may be able to help. So her eyes search for the vehicle matching the description she’s been given.

No luck on that particular day; she doesn’t find the vehicle. But next time she . . .