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Health and Human Services

Faith in Tomorrow

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GOALS

1. By 2013-14, establish and articulate a partnership with Catholic Charities to address the health and human service needs of students, families, faculty and staff.
2. By 2013-14, achieve an 80 percent satisfactory response rate from the school community to a survey based on the Coordinated School Health Index (SHI). (The SHI is a self-assessment and planning tool created by the Center for Disease Control that schools can use to improve their health and safety policies and programs.)

Educators today recognize that to improve student performance in school and to empower students to reach their full potential, schools must partner with human service agencies to ensure safe and orderly school environments in which children’s social, mental and emotional – as well as educational – needs are supported. By addressing the non-academic barriers to learning and supporting a student and his/her family both in school and in the community, students, teachers and schools can overcome the cycle of failure and poor academic performance.

Many students and families in our schools have lives that are significantly challenged, requiring a broad range of health and human services, including refugee services, basic economic needs, parenting strategies and counseling services. Recognizing this need, the Department of Catholic Schools partnered with Catholic Charities of Buffalo in 2008. Through funding received from Fidelis Care New York and the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, a pilot program was conducted in several schools throughout the diocese. These two grants supported direct development and on-site social work services to mitigate the non-academic barriers to learning through a family-centered, case-management approach to mental and social service delivery. Outcomes of the program included an increase in students’ academic achievement, a decrease in tardiness, a decrease in discipline-related incidents reported by school officials, a decrease in the number of children experiencing aggression toward/from peers, and an increase in parent participation in their children’s education.

Additionally the pilot program revealed the need to assist faculty and staff in better meeting their own health needs such as improved nutrition, stress reduction, and the handling of personal challenges.

This strategic plan recognizes the success of this pilot program and the necessity to both continue the existing program and to expand it to additional school communities. The results of the pilot program suggest that all schools should have access to at least a part-time, on-site counselor. However, understanding the financial constraints of school budgets, this plan seeks ways to develop and sustain collaborations and partnerships with human service agencies, to identify and address the non-academic needs of the students, families, faculty and staff in our Catholic schools.

Strategy 7.1:
Launch a Phase I project of five to ten elementary schools to develop the model for the Catholic Charities partnership.
Action Plans:
• Chart school locations in relation to the Catholic Charities offices serving family needs.
• Develop a survey tool to prioritize needs based on the School Health Index as related to the following areas: family/community involvement, health education, physical education, health promotion for staff, health services, healthy school environment counseling, psychological, social services and nutrition services.
• Implement a process for collecting, storing and retrieving data.
• Identify areas where Catholic Charities can meet needs of students and families and find the necessary financial resources to meet those needs.
• Define protocols for referral and delineate appropriate measures of assessment to determine success of project and/or to adjust procedures.
• Provide in-school training for staff on topics related to school needs.
• Identify areas of unmet needs for future collaborations.

Strategy 7.2:
Research an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for the diocesan elementary school faculty and staff, exercise due diligence and make recommendations to the diocesan Office of Human Resources.
Action Plans:
• Establish a committee to research an EAP provider and to write and distribute a Request for Proposals (RFP).
• Solicit and review proposals using due diligence for an optimum solution.
• Make recommendations to the diocese outlining services, benefits and costs.

Strategy 7.3:
Foster relationships with the local public school districts to optimize the health and human services received by the Catholic elementary and secondary schools.
Action Plans:
• Provide resources from the Department of Catholic Schools to each school principal to assist in identifying needed health and human services and to facilitate communication with their local public school district.

Strategy 7.4:
Establish relationships with other social service agencies and not-for-profit organizations to meet the needs of faculty, staff, students and families.
Action Plans:
• Identify unmet needs in the school community.
• Identify potential community partners to fill unmet needs and establish referral protocols.
• Develop and implement appropriate programs.