Get Involved-Spotlight: Communities in Schools
Vision: All children in Central Texas have access to needed school-based support, resources and opportunities so that they are successful in school, graduate and become contributing members of society.
Mission: To surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
The Challenge: The Texas Education Agency has identified more than 100,000 students in Central Texas to be “at-risk” for school dropout because they have repeated one or more grades, failed the Texas standardized TAKS test, have limited English proficiency, are pregnant or parenting, or have been set back academically by other challenges. Behind these risk factors are the multiple barriers students also face: little to no school readiness or parental involvement, inadequate shelter, clothing or food, untreated mental, emotional, or physical health problems, direct or indirect contact with substance abuse or abuse in the home-all significant obstacles to learning.
Without proper supports, 1 in 3 children will not graduate high school. Individuals who drop out before graduation are more than twice as likely to live in poverty, more than three times as likely to be unemployed and more than eight times as likely to be incarcerated.
The Solution: Communities In Schools is a dropout prevention program. Through campus-based programs and special projects, Communities In Schools creates a network of volunteers, social services, businesses, and community resources that work together to break down barriers and help students succeed. And the formula works: last year, 99% of the students referred to Communities In Schools stayed in school, 92% were promoted to the next grade and 83% improved in academics, attendance, and/or behavior.
Over the past 25 years, Communities In Schools has expanded its services to 56 public school campuses within six school districts, reaching at-risk students in five counties throughout Central Texas including Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson. During the 2008-2009 school year, 5,665 students received comprehensive case-management services and a total of 42,213 students and family members were reached agency-wide.
Recent Recognition: Communities In Schools has garnered much attention from national, state and local entities for its highly effective dropout prevention programs. A 2008 report, “Best Practices in Dropout Prevention,” released by the Texas Education Agency, found that Communities In Schools is the only dropout prevention program in Texas operating at the elementary, middle, and high school levels that also shows meaningful effects on graduation rates. Moreover, a 2009 study released by the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, “The ABCD’s of Texas Education: Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Reducing the Dropout Rate,” highlighted Communities In Schools of Texas as a particularly effective approach for addressing the dropout problem.
Individual Student Support: Communities In Schools works in partnership with schools by placing full-time social work professionals on campuses to target students who are most at risk for dropout. Communities In Schools staff work with any student whose academics, attendance and/or behavior are suffering due to non-academic factors and accept referrals from a variety of sources including teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community members. Communities In Schools staff conduct a thorough assessment of each child and develop a service plan that incorporates one or more of the following strategies: case management, counseling, support groups, crisis intervention, basic needs assistance, home visits, mentoring, and help identifying and accessing community resources.School Readiness
- ASPIRE- Comprehensive family literacy services.
- Parents as Teachers – Individual parent education and training.
- Incredible Years – Group parent education and training.
- Tech Tots – Computer literacy services for parents with young children.
Prevention and Targeted Intervention
- XY-Zone- Leadership development and peer support for at-risk adolescent males.
- Pebble Project-Child abuse prevention and education.
- SmartKids-School-based case management services and after-school tutoring and enrichment programming for students residing in public housing.
- Care Coordination-Intensive array of services to support families and improve children’s mental health.
- The Volunteer, AmeriCorps, Internship, and Mentoring Matters programs provide mentoring, tutoring, service-learning projects, linkage to resources, and additional services to students.
Volunteers Needed!Bill Milliken, founder of the Communities In Schools model and author of “The Last Dropout,” said it best, “Program don’t change kids- relationships do.” Healthy supportive adult relationships are the core of all Communities In Schools programming and we are always looking for volunteers to make a difference in someone’s life.
Mentor a Student-We need adult role models to serve as individual school-based mentors. Make a positive impact on students who are surrounded by negative influences by meeting once a week during the school day to talk and engage in activities together.
Tutor a Student-By tutoring once a week during the school day, you can help at-risk students achieve academic success and create a caring and supportive academic environment.
Technology Tutor for a CIS Family-Teach parents basic computer skills and help their children learn to use kid-friendly educational software through six-months of home visits in our Tech Tots program.
CIS Room Makeover-Help transform a Communities In Schools counseling room into a bright and therapeutic space with paint, pillows and a little elbow grease.
Communities In Schools of Central Texas3000 South IH-35, Suite 200Austin, Texas 78704Phone: 512.462.1771 or 512.464.9701Fax: 512.462.0825