Through combined efforts of key partners, the Adams County Safe Schools Healthy Students (SSHS) initiative has provided the following benefits:
● Key school personnel and first responders completed National Incident Management Systems compliance and emergency crisis management training;
● Tactical site/school safety surveys conducted at all schools;
● School safety equipment installed/updated;
● State of the art fireworks response to dispatch system installed;
● Full-time school resource officers assigned to each school district
● Olweus bullying/violence prevention program implemented in grades K-8;
● Too Good For Drugs Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drug prevention curriculum in grades 3-8;
● Student Assistance Program specialists provided to coordinate bullying/violence prevention and improve student support systems;
● RISQ Program formed — an alternative to out-of-school suspension program to provide academic and behavioral support;
● Mental Health Services — school-based mental health services including assessment/screening, individual/group therapy, and case management;
● Early Childhood social-emotional learning/behavior supports: Second Step social-emotional skills curriculum; evidence-based behavior supports to prevent and address challenging and chronic disruptive behavior; case management and mental health services
These coordinated and sustained efforts have brought about significant changes contributing to positive outcomes for Adams County students, including:
— The reduction of students in grades 6-12 suspended from school for fighting, from 3.8% in 2008 to 1.5% in 2011;
— A reduction of students grades 6-12 who reported that they had been in a physical fight in the past year, from 30% in 2008 13% in 2011;
— Increased number of students in grades K-12 accessing mental health services, from 42 in 2008 to 202 in 2011
— An increased percentage of mental health referrals resulting in service, from 72% in 2008 to 86% in 2011;
— A reduction of eighth-grade students involved in bullying, from 25% in 2010 to 13% in 2011;
— An increased graduation rate, from 89.9% in 2008-09 to 92.5 in 2010-11;
— A 66% reduction in expulsions from 2008-2011
— An 11.4% increase in the percentage of students grades 3-8 passing both math and language arts ISTEP (from 69.4 in 2008-09 to 80.8 in 2011-12).
The key to continuing the momentum and making lasting change will be whether or not we are able to sustain our efforts beyond the federal funding cycle. The Adams County SSHS initiative is midway through the fifth and final year of funding.
School leaders and community partners are looking for creative solutions and needed funding to continue these important initiatives beyond 2012-13 in the face of economic challenges and pressure of state and local budget cuts.
Adams County has benefitted greatly from this community-focused, collaborative approach to addressing community issues related to school safety, substance abuse and violence prevention, and mental health treatment. Given the recent tragedy that has numbed the nation and left us wondering what it will take to keep our children safe, it is critical that — as a community — we resolve to sustain the important initiatives that have been put in place through SSHS beyond the funding cycle and continue to build on our efforts to ensure the safety and healthy development of every child. We all share a role in the effort to prevent youth violence.
— Kim Fullove is the director of the Adams County Safe Schools Healthy Students initiative. For more information on the program, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .