A new computer program will help the staff at P.S. 85 – and possibly other schools in the future – steer impoverished families to the city resources they need.
A group of Fordham University students, along with their computer and information science professor Frank Hsu, have worked since fall of 2015 to develop the program which mental health professionals working at the school can now use.
The students were able to use IBM Watson technology to create a app which provides answers to specific questions the counselors and mental health staff at P.S. 85 commonly receive.
For example, staff can type, “Where can I get food stamps?” and the program will relay the nearest location to get SNAP benefits.
Cesarina Javier, the mental health coordinator at P.S. 85, said many times parents come into the school and ask her for help with various problems that the staff is not readily equipped to answer or is not related to their job description.