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Safe Schools Healthy Students

Safe Schools Healthy Students (SSHS)

In September of 2013, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction was one of seven states awarded the Safe Schools Healthy Students (SSHS) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This four-year, approximately $8.8 million dollar grant is a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Department of Health Services, and three local communities/school districts; Racine, Beloit, and Menominee Indian, to create safe and supportive schools and communities. The partnership between education, behavioral health, and juvenile justice also occurs within the three local communities through the development of a core management team.

This comprehensive project has been guided by a state management team made up of representatives of public, private, and non-profit agencies throughout the state. They have assisted in a needs assessment/environmental scan, identification of priority needs and gaps, and in the development of a comprehensive plan.

The SSHS project requires the state and three local communities to address five core areas or elements. These are:

  1. Promoting early childhood social-emotional learning and development
  2. Promoting mental, emotional, and behavioral health
  3. Connecting families, schools, and communities
  4. Preventing behavioral health problems, including substance use
  5. Creating safe and violence-free schools

Goals

Within each of these elements, our needs assessment identified goal areas to be the focus of this plan.

  1. Promoting early childhood social-emotional learning and development
    1. Goal 1A: Strengthen supports for parents/caregivers and early childhood providers to help promote social-emotional learning in schools and other community-based settings.
    2. Goal 1B: Increase use of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire-Social Emotional screening in 4- and 5-year-old kindergartens to improve early identification of children at risk for social-emotional learning difficulties.
  2. Promoting mental, emotional, and behavioral health
    1. Goal 2A: Increase awareness and implementation of mental health promotion activities in Wisconsin Public Schools.
    2. Goal 2B: Improve recognition and treatment of mental health challenges through improved interagency collaboration and improved access to treatment.
  3. Connecting families, schools, and communities
    1. Goal 3A: Improve parent and family engagement in Wisconsin Public Schools.
    2. Goal 3B: Increase parent and family access to parent peer support in navigating and accessing multiple systems of care for children with mental/behavioral health problems.
  4. Preventing behavioral health problems, including substance use
    1. Goal 4: Reduce substance use and increase early intervention for behavioral health problems for youth K-12.
  5. Creating safe and violence-free schools
    1. Goal 5A: Improve school climate and decrease the use of exclusionary discipline.
    2. Goal 5B: Reduce bullying and increase students’ perceptions of safety in schools.

Wisconsin Safe Schools Healthy Students Staff

Project Director: Rebecca Collins, Director of the Student Services/Prevention and Wellness Team, (608)266-5198
Project Coordinator: Beth Herman, (608)267-9242
Project Coordinator: Christie Gause-Bemis, (608)266-2749
Project Evaluator: John Bowser, (608)266-2829

 

Local School Districts/Communities

Menominee Indian School District

The Menominee Indian School District is entirely bounded by sovereign tribal lands. It has the smallest county population. Ninety-three percent of the students enrolled are American Indian. Eighty-four percent of the students are identified as economically disadvantaged. Menominee has consistently ranked 72nd out of 72 Wisconsin County Health Rankings. Physical and behavioral health services are provided by tribal and county agencies. This grant proposes to better coordinate the efforts of these agencies. Goals of Menominee Indian School District’s SSHS project:

  1. Promote the development of social and emotional skills among children ages 0-5 years through screening and early intervention, parent/caregiver education in social and emotional development, and implementation of trauma-informed care practices among agency staff serving children and their families.
  2. Promote students’ social, emotional, mental, and behavioral well-being through increased integration and coordination of services in a school-based setting.
  3. Increase trust, support, and involvement between adult caregivers and agencies serving children and families.
  4. Prevent substance use among children and youth, and foster school and community environments that promote children’s mental health.
  5. Foster a school climate where students feel safe, connected, and are able to thrive academically, socially and emotionally, and culturally.

For more information about the Menomonee Indian School District, visit their website.

The School District of Beloit

The city of Beloit is the 19th largest city in Wisconsin with about 37,000 residents. The School District of Beloit is very racially diverse and about 77 percent of students identified as economically disadvantaged. Goals of the School District of Beloit’s SSHS project:

  1. Enhance school readiness for children 0-5 and their families.
  2. Increase mental and behavioral wellness of children and families.
  3. Establish strong connections between family, school, and community.
  4. Reduce youth substance use.
  5. Create a culture of awareness and choices to empower students to feel safe, supported, and connected.

For more information about the School District of Beloit, visit their website.

Racine Unified School District

The Racine Unified School District is the largest community in the SSHS project. Racine is a diverse community with 20,577 students enrolled in the district. Sixty-four percent of students were identified as economically disadvantaged. Goals of the Racine Unified School District's SSHS project:

  1. Increase knowledge of and proficiency in instruction of social-emotional learning and development for early childhood families and staff.
  2. Increase mental health awareness and promotion activities being implemented in schools.
  3. A: Increase the number of families utilizing and benefiting from school and community-based resources.
    B: Increase parent and family access to parent peer support in navigating and accessing multiple systems of care for children with mental/behavioral health problems.
  4. Reduce substance use and increase early intervention for behavioral health problems for K-12.
  5. Reduce school violence and increase safety and engagement in school.

For more information about the Racine Unified School District, visit their website.

For questions about this information, contact Beth Herman (608) 267-9242