Our family advocacy services focus on supporting youth to develop the tools to manage the obstacles that interfere with their ability to engage and succeed in school. Services and activities fall within three main categories:
Assessment, Goal Setting, and Plan Development
We assess the needs of youth within 45 days of intake and follow up at regular intervals to measure progress. Once assessed, we develop an individualized action plan together with each young person as research shows that goal setting is a powerful motivator for action, and adolescence is a critical time period for formulating goals. Research has also shown that goal setting is important because it helps define a clear plan for action and tangible steps for achieving these goals. Additionally, there is emerging evidence from studies on human brain development that the process of simply creating goals during adolescence may shape brain function across the lifespan .
On-Going Case Management Services
The family advocates focus on getting young people to school on a daily basis. Many of the young people we serve have had poor school attendance for most of their school careers, and it goes without saying that attendance and engagement in the learning process are necessary for any youth to gain the benefits of the education offered at school.
When students do not show up for school, the family advocates find them and bring them to school. We remove any obstacles in the way of school attendance, including childcare, transportation, clothing, or conflicts with peers and/or teachers. For chronic non-attenders, individualized attendance intervention plans are created that include specific incentives and interventions.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Skill Building
We know the young people with whom we work need help building social and emotional skills. Research shows a correlation between social and emotional competence and academic performance. “Schools that create socially and emotionally sound learning and working environments, and that help students and staff develop greater social and emotional competence, in turn help ensure positive short- and long-term academic and personal outcomes for students, and higher levels of teaching and work satisfaction for staff.” Students who receive SEL instruction have more positive attitudes about school and improved an average of 11 percentile points on standardized achievement tests compared to students who did not receive such instruction .
Family advocates use a range of interventions to build these social and emotional skills. Our advocates provide weekly gender-specific group sessions called Boys Council and Girls Circle. These programs from the One Circle Foundation “promote resiliency and healthy relationships with research-based gender-responsive circle models and best practices.”
We also utilize an evidence-supported, trauma-informed model, the Sanctuary Model , which helps youth heal from trauma. This model offers specific tools our family advocates employ to help young people recover from trauma, including community meetings, S.E.L.F. psycho-educational curriculum, and safety plans. Together, these tools help young people manage their emotions, focus on their future instead of their past, and remain in their classrooms.