May 2016

Things to Consider in June 2016 from the RTSC:

Comeback Kids
With the same high academic expectations that any school would require of college bound students, Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea, Massachusetts is creating opportunities for young people facing all sorts of hurdles — dropouts, court-involved youth with criminal records, recent immigrants with limited English skills, and those in the state foster care system.  Teaching from strength-based areas of competency, the school offers restorative practices and a strong sense of community while providing supports like child care, keeping in touch with students who may come to school in “fits and starts”, academic tutoring, post-graduation counseling and social work services. These are all features that have been identified as key to effective alternative schools.

New Federal Law Extends Support to Homeless Preschool Students
Beginning Oct. 1, the same requirement that allows K-12 students to stay enrolled in their home school if they move outside of that school’s attendance boundary during the school year will apply to children attending federal Head Start programs and state-funded preschools, thanks to the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These students can remain at those schools in subsequent years until they have permanent housing.  Districts are also responsible for providing transportation to and from school, assuming the student has not moved so far away that it would not be feasible.

Brains in Pain Cannot Learn!
The author describes ways to create “brain states” that are safe and calm and allow the fear response of trauma to settle down and let the learning begin. Getting the brain primed to learn can be accomplished by movement, focused attention practice, and teaching the students basic neurology – understanding why the fear response is so important and how we can change that response with practice.

Trauma Can Produce PTSD in Our Own Neighborhoods
This study from Atlanta examined 8,000 inner-city residents and found that two-thirds had been violently attacked and half of them knew someone who had been murdered. The rates of PTSD were as high or higher than Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam veterans. The study calls for better screening and identification of trauma-related symptoms in areas of high poverty and violence, especially by community–based physicians and mental health clinicians.

FDA Moves to Ban Shock Devices Used On Those with Special Needs
The Food and Drug Administration is moving forward with plans to ban devices used to administer electric shocks to those with developmental disabilities in an effort to modify their behavior. As quoted in the article, “The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Mass., which serves children and adults with developmental disabilities as well as those with behavioral and emotional problems, is the only facility in the nation known to be using the devices.”

A Massachusetts Community Working Together to Support a Village of Foster Kids
This delightful and heart-warming article in Women’s Day describes life at the Treehouse in Easthampton, Mass., where the primary focus is on moving children out of foster care and into permanent homes, thus providing them with a sense of belonging and stability they would likely never experience otherwise. To live at Treehouse, applicants must be willing to adopt children from the public welfare system; or be able-bodied and age 55 or older, ready to babysit, drive, tutor and, mostly, love the kids who live there. Strong bonds of unconditional trust and support are forged between the adopted kids, their families and the elders in a little village made especially with all their needs in mind.

A Shared Sentence
More than 5 million U.S. children have had a parent in jail or prison at some point in their lives. The incarceration of a parent can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence. States spend heavily on corrections, but few resources exist to support those left behind. A Shared Sentence offers proposals to address the increased poverty and stress that children of incarcerated parents experience.

Useful Tools and Resources

Education Department Announces New Tools to Support Successful Reentry for Formerly Incarcerated Youth and Adults
This toolkit provides resources for educators and community members and highlights the five critical components of an effective reentry system: program infrastructure, strategic partnerships, education services, transition processes, and sustainability.

Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements
This Quick Guide explains how making school climate improvements involves 5 sets of activities — planning; engaging stakeholders; collecting, analyzing and reporting school climate data; identifying and implementing interventions; and monitoring and evaluation — and then provides guidance for each activity set.

The 5th Annual Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Free Conference, June 8th
The Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren invites you to attend: The 5th Annual Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference for grandparents, kinship caregivers, support group facilitators, providers, and community leaders.

This event will provide you an opportunity to meet, collaborate, and learn from various providers and state agencies working with and on behalf of grandparents and kinship caregivers from across the Commonwealth. The Conference is FREE and Lunch is included. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.

Click here for more information: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs118/1118212708812/archive/1123892478114.html