Whole Child Initiatives
- Drug Free Communities Grant
- Kare Kloset
- Mark Wood Mentorship Program
- Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
- Flyer Pride Pack: Weekend Food Backpack Program
DFC GRANT, STOP ACT GRANT - SCHOOL DISTRICT SERVES AS FISCAL HOST
Goal: Little Falls Community Schools will uphold its responsibilities as fiscal host for the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Grant and the STOP Act Grant, and maintain its integral role in the functions of the Stand Up 4 U Community Coalition.
Built on the community-shared value of health and safety of youth, Little Falls Community School District is a partner with the Stand Up 4 U Community Coalition to focus on helping youth reach their full potential by reducing teen use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs. As fiscal host, Little Falls Community Schools, in collaboration with Stand Up 4 U Community Coalition, was awarded a five-year Drug Free Communities Grant in 2014 and again in 2019; they were also awarded a four-year STOP Act Grant in 2019. Both of these grants continue to build on the youth substance use prevention partnerships, collaborations, and strategies that began in 2008 when Stand Up 4 U Community Coalition was established in the Little Falls community.
The Kare Kloset is a program that was started in November of 2017 for students that were struggling to have their basic needs met at home. The Kare Kloset provides food, clothing, and hygiene products to students at the Little Falls Community Middle School and Little Falls Community High School. Donations are received through school employees, community members, and grants. The Kare Kloset serves approximately 20-30 students per month on average. Many of these students are homeless, temporarily homeless, or living in extreme poverty. They are often embarrassed to ask for help and are concerned that they will be taken away from their parents or guardian if they ask for assistance. Once students trust the staff and are aware that they can be a help to their families in need, they allow us to provide for them as we are able.
Organizers of the Kare Kloset often receive thank you notes from students and their parents for helping them get through tough times. Many parents are working 1-2 jobs, but struggle to get out of the cycle of poverty. Often, students and parents are dealing with mental health issues, chemical dependency issues, and legal issues. In most cases, students are living with one parent or a relative. Some of our older students “couch hop” or rotate sleeping at their friend’s houses. It is difficult to function in the classroom when they have so many other things in life to be concerned about. As students receive assistance from the Kare Kloset, their grades improve, their self-esteem increases, and they feel more comfortable attending school. Often, we have students who shower in the locker rooms and wear donated clothing that they feel good about wearing. They have a better chance of fitting in with others and taking pride in their appearance.
Students that access the Kare Kloset contribute by working to keep it going. They often fold clothing, arrange food items, and keep the store organized. It has allowed them to feel they’ve earned the items they are receiving and motivates them to be productive citizens both in school and in the community.
The presence of a caring adult offering support, advice, friendship, reinforcement, and constructive examples is a powerful tool for helping young people fulfill their potential. The goal of the Mark Wood Mentoring Program is to intervene early in the lives of at-risk youth. The main purpose is unconditional time, attention, and support to assist in children achieving their potential and discovering their strengths. Youth with a mentoring relationship have better attendance, a better chance of going on to higher education, and better attitudes toward school. Participating in a mentoring program promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. It has been shown that mentoring appears to help prevent substance abuse, reduce some negative behaviors, and promote better child/parent communication.
The Mark Wood Mentorship Program is formatted as follows: an adult mentor (background check required) comes into the school one time per week for a 30 minute mentor session using a mentor room that is equipped with many different activities; board games, art activities, books, craft projects, legos, playhouse, sport items, puzzles, snacks, etc. Adults and students are “matched” based on interests with parent permission granted for the student to participate. Adult mentors commit for the school year with the option to continue with the same student or switch at the end of each school year.
The Little Falls Community Schools began implementation of an evidenced-based framework called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in the summer of 2011. PBIS encourages schools to identify 3-5 behavioral expectations and teach behavioral expectations along with academics. For students who are not consistently demonstrating the expectations, each school has a protocol to reteach them to ensure students have additional supports to promote expected behavior. Through this process, each building has formed a PBIS team, and four district-wide behavioral expectations were identified; Respect, Responsibility, Positive Attitude, and Safety. Each building outlined what expected behavior looked like across various school environments, including, but not limited to hallways, classrooms, lunchroom, and community. These behavioral expectations began being taught to students in the spring of 2012. Positive behavior recognition systems have been developed in which any employee can positively acknowledge expected behavior.
One way PBIS has begun to expand to the community is through the Stand Up 4 U Coalition. Stand Up 4 U is a community group whose goal is to reduce substance use by students in the Little Falls Community Schools to promote teen health and safety. The coalition uses Positive Community Norms (PCN) as the framework to create media messages around the positive attitudes and beliefs in the community and among the focus audience. PCN guides the process of helping the community set new standards and expectations for behavior around youth substance use. Both PBIS and PCN utilize evidenced based and data to make decisions on the effectiveness of implementation. One data source Little Falls Community School has utilized this school year is the School-Wide Evaluation Tool (SET), this assessment assesses each building's implementation of the 7-core PBIS principles. The SET score is generated through a variety of data collection methods such as student and teacher interviews, and permanent products such as posters, banners, and student recognition slips. The average SET score for the Little Falls Community Schools shows a pre-score of 47%, which was conducted Fall of 2011, and a post-score of 100% as of Spring 2013. A Benchmark of Quality Assessment is conducted at each site on an annual basis and provides information to building PBIS teams to assist with yearly goal setting and implementation.
The Flyer Pride Pack Program started in September 2016 after three Little Falls Community School staff members (Laura DeChaine) completed an Alternative Career Pathways Project during the 2015-2016 school year. The fourth full year of implementation sees continued growth in the program.
Grants and donations from corporations, faith communities, service clubs, and individuals fund the Flyer Pride Pack Program. The estimated cost to feed one elementary child for the school year, 36 weeks, is $200.00. The food bag consists of 5 entrees, 2 breakfast items, a snack, and fruit. Flyer Pride Packs are delivered to Lincoln, Lindbergh, and Dr. S. G. Knight Elementary Schools and staff places them discreetly in the child’s school backpack to go home on Friday for the weekend.
For the 2019-2020 school year, we sent home 2160 weekend food bags from September 2019 through March 2020. Due to COVID-19, we paused Flyer Pride Packs since Little Falls Community Schools provided breakfast, lunch, and weekend food from March through June 2020. We did have grab-and-go Flyer Pride Packs in each school foyer for families to take as needed. We served 74 children attending either Dr. S.G. Knight, Lincoln, or Lindbergh Elementary. We also expanded to serve homeless youth at the Middle School and High School.
For additional information, please feel free to contact: Laura DeChaine at firstname.lastname@example.org.