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District to act as pilot school for behavioral health program

Published November 15. 2011 05:01PM

A presentation was made at Monday evening's Jim Thorpe Area School Board meeting. The presentation detailed how JTASD had been chosen to be a part of the Behavioral Health Pilot Program. A committee formed from the Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative has been working on the program.

Jeanne Miller, co-chairperson of the Child and Family Collaborative, and JTASD Superintendent Barbara Conway discussed the pilot program and the collaborative.

The Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative, which is a subcommittee of the Carbon County Partners for Progress, has worked to start up a pilot program bringing behavioral health services to Carbon County.

The committee conducted research and worked with behavioral health agencies in the area. The committee decided to have the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit provide the services.

Jim Thorpe Area was chosen by CLIU to pilot the program due to the lack of comprehensive services in the district and geographic location.

The program will pilot in Jim Thorpe at the L. B. Morris Elementary School and Penn-Kidder Elementary School. The program will be held in the school buildings after school hours. Jim Thorpe school district will be offering space and referring students and families to the program.

Miller said the program will be child-centered with a focus on the families needs. Family involvement will also be encouraged.

The program is in the process of being authorized and on-site inspections of the schools will be done. A start date for the program has yet to be confirmed.

During the presentation Miller and Conway discussed what the collaborative focuses on in Carbon County.

Conway said one of the things the collaborative focuses on is, "To take a look at the community needs as they relate to children and families in Carbon County. Prioritize those needs and then go do it. In other words implement whatever we can."

The collaborative studied a compilation of data, some of which included surveys on drug and alcohol use in the county.

"It's (the compilation) a portrait of statistical data of what is going on with the families and children of Carbon County," said Conway.

The collaborative discovered that 50-60 percent of children's social and emotional life come into the classroom.

"If a child is having difficulties at home or if the family is having difficulties at home, those kinds of pressures and those kinds of problems will manifest themselves in the classroom," Conway said.

Conway added that those pressures can manifest themselves in a positive or negative way.

When the collaborative started, studies showed Carbon County had been struggling with such things as an increase in juvenile defenders and large numbers of students going into the mental health system.

Miller said that the priorities of the collaborative are: getting parents involved from the start, after-school academic programs, and an increase in behavioral health services.

During the presentation Miller and Conway discussed the programs the school district and the collaborative work on together. Some of the programs include the SHINE After School Program and Right from the Start.

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