FY22 Annual Report: Success looks like partnering with local schools
Four Oaks School District Partnerships Link families to local services
Four Oaks collaborates with school districts across Iowa to create school-based programs that meet the needs of at-risk students. In Cedar Rapids, we partner with the Cedar Rapids Community School District to identify students who would benefit from our programs, then connect them with the services they need to improve social/emotional skills and function successfully with their peers.
Megan Brown, the Community Support Specialist at Johnson STEAM Academy, is there to bridge the gap between the school and the community to ensure students are getting all the services they need.
When Megan learns about a child with frequent office referrals, she talks with their teachers about their concerns and then reaches out to parents to offer services that can help meet their child’s needs. She is able to refer kids to a variety of programs available through the Four Oaks Enterprise, including therapy, Behavioral Health Intervention Services, Integrated Health Home, TotalChild®, and more. “I will sit in on IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings to see if kids need other services, like help with housing, food, or getting basic needs met, and I can make sure they get those services,” Megan said.
In her role, Megan coordinates everything from identifying what providers the child needs to making the appointments. The goal is to make it easy for the family. She brings providers directly to the kids at the school, ensuring that students have access to the services they require. Megan said, “Kids are more likely to be in treatment when the services come to them,” and parents don’t have to coordinate transportation.
Often kids are referred to Four Oaks Achievement Academy, an after-school program at the nearby Jane Boyd Community House that offers opportunities for homework help as well as social and recreational activities. Megan is also the manager who oversees Achievement Academy so she is consistently there throughout the day for the children of Johnson STEAM Academy and their families, and she serves as the primary contact for all their needs.
Megan keeps a close eye on each student’s progress. She follows each child as their office referrals are successfully reduced, and sees when social/emotional skills improve and they are better able to function with their peers. She said, “I get to report back to Johnson teachers and Four Oaks and tell them about what’s going on at school, give feedback about what’s going well, and recommend areas to work on.”
Most times Megan is successful in getting kids into the programs they need quickly, but some families are reluctant to begin using available services. Responding to a number of office referrals, she repeatedly talked with one child’s parent about the services available. However, it took several years for the parent to agree to the services Megan recommended. “Mom finally agreed to therapy, and the kiddo is in after-school and summer camp at Achievement Academy. We see this child have less office referrals each day because she’s now able to manage her emotions a little better and she’s learned how to verbalize what’s going on with her instead of acting out. For us, that’s a success,” she said.
Through the Four Oaks partnership with Cedar Rapids Community School District, kids from underserved neighborhoods are receiving the assistance they need to become successful adults.
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