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School Based Program Shows Impressive Results

Children’s Bureau is proud to release data from its comprehensive school-based mental health program that shows a 50% drop in suspension rates and improved grade point averages (GPA).

 

In 2010, with funding from the Institute of Mental Hygiene (IMH), Children’s Bureau partnered with McDonogh City Park Academy (MCPA), a public elementary school in New Orleans, to develop a comprehensive program to promote social and emotional wellness and address barriers that prevent children from learning and functioning well. The program provided not only direct mental health intervention to students, but also engaged teachers and school staff to increase their capacity to foster the social, emotional, intellectual and behavioral development of students.

 

MCPA has 400 students of whom 93.25% are termed as “at-risk” by the Louisiana Department of Education.

 

“We’ve known for years that accessible, quality mental health supports can impact student behavior and enhance academic achievement,” said Carter. “With this project, we explored how best to work with school leaders to create a truly comprehensive approach to enhancing mental health and wellbeing.”

 

“We made a commitment to work this program from top to bottom at our school,” said MCPA’s Principal Christine Mitchell. “We made changes to academic programming and procedures, trained teachers and staff, and provided screenings and necessary interventions to students. It was no small undertaking, but the results have been well worth the effort.”

 

In addition to changes in academic programming and procedures, a three-tiered system of mental health services within MCPA was built to include:

  • Tier I:  Universal screening for emotional and behavioral risk, teacher instruction of a social and emotional learning curriculum called Second Steps, and teacher professional development sessions to support trauma-informed approaches to classroom and student management.

  • Tier II:Teacher consultation to increase effectiveness in behavior management, support to the leadership team to address referrals for social, emotional, and behavioral student issues, and targeted skill building groups based on student need.

  • Tier III: Provision of individual and group therapy for students with intensive needs and referral to and coordination with community agencies to address specialized problems.

The partnership between MCPA and Children’s Bureau of New Orleans has been ongoing now for three academic years. Stacy Overstreet, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Tulane University’s Department of Psychology, is overseeing the evaluation of the program, and the first two years of data reveals the following:

 

Students who participated in both years of the project showed an indication of better behavior and increased learning:

  • There was more than a 50% reduction in suspensions from 2011-12.

  • Over the 2011-12 school year, student GPA increased an average of.081 points on the 4.0 scale. Over the 2012-13 school year, GPA increased an average of .13 points.

The project has also increased the commitment and capacity of teachers to foster social and emotional development of all students at MCPA.

 

  • Survey results indicate growing teacher confidence in the Second Step curriculum. In January, 2013, only 34.7% of teachers agreed that Second Step equipped students with useful skills; in January, 2014, 68.4% agreed that Second Step was effective in helping students learn social and emotional skills.
  • Survey results also indicate growth in teacher competence delivering the Second Step curriculum. In January, 2013, 48% of teachers felt comfortable teaching the curriculum compared to 68.4% in January, 2014. In addition, the percentage of teachers who felt they had adequate time to deliver the lessons rose from 28% in January, 2013 to 42.1% in January, 2014.

  • During the 2013-12 academic year, three Second Step Peer Support Teachers were identified to provide mentoring and support to other teachers regarding implementation of the Second Step curriculum and integration of the content into other academic or classroom management activities. These “program champions” are fostering trust and collegiality, providing feedback regarding implementation, and facilitating open and frequent communication regarding the Second Step curriculum—all factors that should increase the impact of the curriculum on student outcomes.

Additionally, over the course of the partnership, MCPA’s School Performance Score increased from a grade of ‘F’ to a grade of ‘C’.

 

“It is our hope that this project will lead to the development of a successful collaborative model that can be duplicated at other school sites,” said Carter. “With the initial evidence that the model is effective in improving the social, emotional, behavioral and academic functioning of students, it is possible that other funding for this project can be obtained, so that we can impact more schools, more teachers and more students with this successful program.”

 

The Power of Positive Parenting

 

One way Children’s Bureau works to enhance the quality of life of at-risk children is by working with parents and caretakers to enhance parenting skills. With start-up funding from Metropolitan Human Services District (MHSD), the agency offers the Positive Parenting Program, or “Triple P” as it is widely known.

 

Triple P aims to promote caring relationships between parents and children, and helps parents deal with a variety of behavior problems and common developmental issues. Positive parenting reduces the stress of parenting and makes parenting more rewarding and enjoyable.

 

“I think for many the expectation is that effectively disciplining a child and teaching them proper behavior as they grow comes naturally for parents,” said Ziesha Every, LPC, a Children’s Bureau clinician who works with parents in the Triple P program. “However, in many situations, caretakers need help to learn these skills.”

 

Ziesha works with parents one-on-one to coach them on ways they can deal with problem behaviors such as tantrums, disrespect, children hurting others, etc.

 

“In a lot of cases, we see that the parent’s behavior actually escalates a situation and intensifies the child’s behavior. Parents will accidently reward problem behavior by giving in to a child’s demands or becoming aggressive in some way. If a child is crying loudly and pulling at his mother to get her phone from her, the mom may lose her patience and say something like: ‘here, just take the phone and stop crying.’ This is actually rewarding the child for his negative behavior.”

 

Ziesha uses role play, provides tip sheets and works through stressors with parents – all in the hopes of enhancing the parenting experience.

 

“I never talk down to parents or degrade them. I try to get parents to look at their strengths. We all have strengths. And I know being a parent is hard work,” said Ziesha. “My role is to work with parents to encourage them and build their skills so they feel more successful at parenting.”

 

Parents and caretakers are referred to Children’s Bureau for this program by various governmental agencies, other nonprofits and through schools in the community. Ziesha says she works with parents of all ages, even grandparents.

 

“When I first started with the program, I thought it would be a lot of young mothers, but we have really seen a variety of caretakers that need help. We work with a variety of children, too, from toddlers to teenagers.”

Ziesha says it’s most rewarding when she hears from a parent after they have moved on from the program, and they still refer to some of the interventions she taught them.

“One mother I worked with was having a lot of problems with her two sons who were close in age. They were fighting a lot, and she was having a hard time with their bedtime routine and getting them to go to sleep at night. They moved to north Louisiana, but she called me to share with me that things were going well and that she was still working with her sons using some of the tips that I had taught her.”

 

For more information on Triple P or other services provided by the Children’s Bureau, please call (504) 525-2366.

 

4th Annual Bowling for Children's Bureau Set

The Children’s Bureau of New Orleans is proud to announce its annual “Bowling for Children’s Bureau” event set for Thursday, May 29 from 5:30 to 9:30 pm. This year the event will take place at the brand new Fulton Alley complex. Created by two local entrepreneurs, Fulton Alley is New Orleans’ newest entertainment bar and restaurant along Fulton Street, featuring 12 bowling lanes wrapped in an atmosphere of art, music, craft food and cocktails. It’s the fourth year of “Bowling for Children’s Bureau”, which has become a popular team-building outing among co-workers with several companies around town participating year in and year out. Fulton Alley is a huge draw for the young professional market, which we hope to reach with this event,” said Paulette Carter, president/CEO of Children’s Bureau of New Orleans.  “The music, quality cocktails and affordable ticket price makes the event a great night out for friends and co-workers.” Individual tickets for “Bowling for Children’s Bureau” are $50 in advance and can be purchased online - see link on homepage. Tickets will be $60 at the door. Admission to the event includes complimentary food, a featured specialty cocktail and free beer. A full, cash bar will be offered, as well. There are still a few lanes open for those who may want to form a team and participate in the bowling tournament. For more information on teams, call Amy Collins at the Children’s Bureau of New Orleans offices at (504) 525-2366.

Project LAST Director Patrick Smith Honored

Patrick Smith, director of Project LAST was recognized by CityBusiness as one of their "Ones to Watch" in Healthcare in January. Smith has been with the Children's Bureau two years, and in that time, has become a valuable member of the agency's leadership team.

Smith has worked in children’s mental health since 1993. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Southern University of New Orleans and a Master’s of Education in Human Counseling from University of New Orleans.

 

QCS Logistics Delivers More Than Usual for Thanksgiving

 CEO Paulette Carter poses with Jason Burns and Sheila Burns of QCS Logistics, and CBNO Board Chair Chris Foucheaux.

QCS Logistics, a regional courier service, has partnered with Children’s Bureau of New Orleans to deliver food baskets for Thanksgiving to families who have children struggling with mental illness.

“We know it’s especially tough during the holidays for the families we serve who have experienced grief and trauma of some sort, so we are grateful for the generosity of QCS Logistics,” said Paulette Carter, president/CEO of Children’s Bureau of New Orleans, which serves the needs of children and youth in Greater New Orleans through a myriad of mental health and wellness programs.

“As a company, we have experienced some measure of success and feel that’s its only fitting that we share our blessings. Our baskets have everything a family needs for a festive Thanksgiving Day meal,” says Jason Burns of QCS Logistics. “As a delivery service, we are more than happy to mobilize our resources to deliver a little bit of joy straight to the doorsteps of these deserving families.”