- Early Intervention by building social capital and integrating services that respond to adversity - rather than just pathology - into settings like schools
- Creating Effective Treatment that offers equitable access to evidence based mental health services, and
- Diverting Incarceration by shifting towards healing-centered care in communities
Seneca Family of Agencies was selected as one of 12 finalists to receive an SF Battery Powered grant for our Unconditional Education work in the Bay Area! Last week Robin Detterman, Executive Director of School Partnerships, shared the stage with the 11 other finalists during Battery Powered Organization Night to collectively demonstrate how each organization is tackling the issue of mental health by focusing on:
Robin illustrated how Seneca prioritizes mental health through its Unconditional Education school partnership model that helps transform schools into inclusive communities that serve all students. If selected, Battery Powered funding would support Unconditional Education efforts in Oakland, California, supporting up to 1,300 students and 100 school staff. We are so grateful for this recognition and opportunity to highlight Unconditional Education alongside so many passionate and amazing organizations working diligently to address mental health in our communities. Check out highlights from Organization Night and read Healed People Heal People... on the Battery Powered website. Express what #UnconditionalEducation means to you and join the conversation by sharing their Facebook Post!
Building the capacity of staff and school systems to deliver trauma-informed equity-oriented supports to students and families is a core component of our mission at All-In! Our Unconditional Education (UE) Training Team is made up of more than forty Seneca staff who offer their passion and experience to teachers, school staff, and parents by leading professional development sessions and workshops. So far in the 2019-20 school year, Seneca staff have provided over 70 trainings at partner schools and organizations across the Bay Area, in addition to a number of trainings staff have led in Los Angeles, Washington state, and New Orleans.
We recently collected 26 responses from our Professional Development Trainer Survey to gather input and feedback from our UE Training Team where respondents shared highlights as well as recommendations for how we can bolster the trainings we offer. Many of the trainers expressed their appreciation of facilitating and creating brave learning spaces that tied in the values of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to build community with school leaders. Moreover others noted that we have a lot more work to do in integrating DEI thoroughly throughout our content offerings so this will be a key area of focus and action beginning this spring.
The Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Project based at the University of Chicago has an inspiring framework that outlines the needs for this type of integration and valuable resources to offer individuals and schools. With much respect and appreciation to our UE Trainers who put in above-and-beyond effort to lead trainings in addition to all the other tasks they hold in their roles, we look forward to building more community among our team and working to enhance program based on the valuable feedback we gathered.
Happy February! It's hard to believe that the school year is more than halfway over. Time flies when you're having fun, right? At this time of year, we like to take a breath, step back and ask our partners for feedback on how things are going within our partnerships. The UE Mid-Year Survey is conducted through the month of January and gives us a good read on how things are going. This feedback highlights our successes and areas for improvement, helping us to focus our intentions through the end of the year.
This year, our surveys yielded some exciting feedback about our partnerships so far. The first highlight we saw in the data spoke to the development of both our practices over time and how we have embedded ourselves in the schools we are partnered with. We saw an increase in the number of schools that participated in the survey from 69% in 2019 to 97% this year with over 500 individual respondents! #Together
The Mid-Year Partnership Survey asks our partners how we are doing with components of the UE Model related to Culture and Climate, Direct Services and Progress Reporting. For students receiving direct services at our school sites we asked our partners two questions:
As one of the three main program goals for the 2019-2020 school year, data collection and progress reporting has been on everyone's minds this year. A lot of time, effort and attention has been given this year across our Academic, Behavioral and Clinical teams to develop and implement effective, meaningful practices within their partnership sites. At this mid-year point, we were curious if progress and outcome reports were shared and used for collaboration during meetings with service providers and found that 73% of respondents agreed that they were! While the goal for the year is at least 80% agreement, we celebrate that this is up from 68% this time last year and embrace this forward momentum headed into the second half of the year. #Datatellsastory
All these numbers, while exciting and informative, don't tell the whole story. We also ask our partners for specific feedback and suggestions on how we collaborate and support the growth of our partnerships. This year, aside from being overwhelmingly positive, we noticed a very interesting shift in the qualitative feedback we received. There was a very clear trend this year of school staff expressing a desire for continued collaboration and progress sharing so that they are more able to support the growth of their students. We love seeing this constructive feedback, as it exemplifies the mindset that we are trying to build at partnerships schools, that all students are the responsibility of all staff. #Twofer
We are looking forward to hearing from all our partners again during our End-of-Year Partnership Survey. Without feedback and collaboration from our partners, we couldn't do what we set out to do. While we wait, here are some more partnership highlights from the year so far #Together:
All-in’s Department of Strategic Initiatives has been working hard to think about the dissemination of our model and approach with a broader community. In that vein, I have been afforded the opportunity to work closely with our internal lead training team (Jason Keppe, Jordan Ullman, William Chiang) to codify our existing systems and structures to better support the coordination of trainings for our partners and think about how to extend the great work that is already happening in the area of training and development.
In this endeavor I have been amazed to see how far our training content has been developed over the years and how much expertise exists within our program. So far this school year All-in staff have facilitated 32 training sessions. Here is a snapshot of the types of trainings and some summative data on how others experienced the training sessions:
Part of this work has also led me to think about the ways in which we can continue to support the growth of staff who facilitate learning journeys for others on school campuses across our program. As well as think about how we can establish structures for continuing to iterate on existing content to ensure they are current and continue to be designed with an equity lens.
Those of us who are given the opportunity to guide learning for others have a tremendous opportunity to create spaces for others to think, reflect, draw new conclusions or confirm existing beliefs. Recently, I have been thinking about what conditions are necessary for others in order to do their best learning.
Here is an article that offers a take on the important factors that influence change in practice:
I’d love to hear more about what you think is important for you or others to do their best learning together.
One of our Occupational Therapists, Mollie Roark, led a Professional Development Training at Lazear Charter Academy for teachers and school staff several weeks ago. She did an amazing job at explaining what Occupational Therapy is and suggested several strategies that can be implemented inside the classroom for students. Great work, Mollie!
Last month, our very own Brenda Gonzalez (Manager of Educational Operations) and Yoko Giron (Manager of Educational Services and Lead Speech-Language Pathologist Assistant) attended the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) annual convention in Pasadena, CA. They got a chance to talk to many Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and Speech-Language Pathologist Assistants (SLPAs) and provide information on our programs so they can join our team! Thank you Brenda and Yoko for attending and spreading the word about our program!
A special "UE Shout Out" goes to Jenny Ortega and Danielle Morales, both Education For Change School Psychologists and our very own Seneca School Psychologists Pam Nieto, Anna Lisa Johannsdottir, and Laura Lopez for doing amazing work at their schools. We appreciate all the work you do with our students and happy you are a part of our amazing school teams!
Next month, Seneca’s second book Unconditional Education: Supporting Schools to Serve All Students will complete production. We caught up with Executive Director of School Partnerships Robin Detterman, who is also one of the book’s authors, to get a sneak peek at what we can expect from this next edition.
What’s this book about?
This is a book about transformational change in schools. Change at this level requires that we consider not only the actions of individual students, families, teachers or schools, but also the systemic conditions that create inequitable outcomes for so many of our nation’s youth. Even after decades of reform, America’s public schools continue to fail predictable groups of students, with the greatest opportunity gaps faced by those whose achievement is hindered by the complex stressors of disability, trauma, poverty, and institutionalized racism. Dramatic change is required to disrupt these existing patterns of inequity. Unconditional Education draws on what Seneca has learned from years of operating specialized education settings, such as counseling enriched classrooms and non-public schools. What we know is that in order for students to be ready to learn they must first experience safety, connection and a sense of belonging. It is not uncommon for students and families who participate in our intensive programs to report that it is the first time they feel welcomed or wanted at school - and that has to change.
Our current educational and mental health systems work on a “fail first” model where students must reach identified thresholds of failure to access certain services. This means that students who enter specialized programs have already experienced years of trouble in school. Rather than waiting for students to get to this point, we must build a system of education that focuses on wellness from the beginning, promoting prevention and early intervention over remediation, and where schools have the knowledge, skills and resources needed to be safe and inclusive places for all students, regardless of their presenting needs. This book highlights specific practices that make up the school transformation framework we have come to call Unconditional Education and discusses implementation successes and challenges within our partner schools.
How does this book connect to Unconditional Care?
In Seneca’s first book, Unconditional Care, John Sprinson articulated how attachment theory and behavioral leaning theory intersect to form the basis of Seneca’s treatment model bearing the same name. At the time of the book’s publication, our agency’s clinical approach was just expanding to also consider how addressing a client’s individual and community context was also needed to promote lasting and sustainable change. Based in systems theory, we now call this the Ecological Stream of our treatment model. Unconditional Education explores how the theoretical concepts behind each of the three streams of unconditional care (relational, behavioral, and ecological) can be applied to individual students and even whole schools.
Why write this book?
For many years, Seneca has sought to break down siloed systems and build a continuum of care across settings and sectors. In the beginning, the agency focused largely on mental and behavioral health interventions, but what we have come to know is that separating a child’s well-being from their success at school is both impossible and absurd. We hope that this book will serve to articulate a set of ideas that will inspire education and policy leaders to rethink the ways in which they support all students. In addition, we hope that the practices described in the book can provide guidance to the many practitioners it requires to enact this important work. The trials and tribulations captured throughout the book are a testament to the many amazing staff who have blazed the trail and continue to define what it takes to provide an unconditional education.
As we settle into the new school year one of the most pressing issues facing educators is that of school safety. Incidents of gun violence at school are statistically very rare, but these tragic events live within our cultural consciousness and occur with much greater frequency in the United States than any other part of the world. According to a 2016 US Department of Education Report more than 90% of public schools have developed a written plan for responding to school shootings and more than 70% of schools have conducted drills to practice those plans.
In recent months, several of our school partners have experienced verbal threats of violence and have had to put these crisis response protocols to the test. Thankfully, in each instance, no actual incidents of violence occurred, and the threats were deemed to lack credibility. In each instance, schools were able to successfully identify areas of concern and respond promptly to ensure the safety of their communities.
Partnering with schools through these incidents has led me to consider: What is it that Unconditional Education brings to the conversation on school safety?
Building upon the foundation of Unconditional Care, Unconditional Education emphasizes the important role relationship and connection play in the process of growth and learning. It has become commonly accepted that students must experience a relative sense of security in order to attend to the processes required for academic learning. However, what is further emerging is an understanding of how strong relationship in and of themselves contribute to a culture of safety.
While many schools across the country have installed metal detectors, security cameras and in some cases uniformed or even armed guards, there is no conclusive evidence that these measures work to prevent school violence. And in some cases, they may exacerbate troubling patterns of identification of perpetrators fueled by implicit bias.
A 2001 Safe Schools Initiative study conducted jointly by the United States Secret Service and Department of Education shed light on what we do know about incidents of youth violence, particularly mass violence, in the school setting with these 10 key findings:
Have a safe and happy school year!
Blog Post Written by: Robin Detterman, Executive Director of School Partnerships
Hello Amazing UE Team,
Over the past month or so we have been collecting feedback from our school partners as a part of our mid-year survey process. The Leadership and Management Teams have been reviewing school responses and have plans to share this information back with you, your school leadership, and partnership staff. I wanted to take this opportunity to share celebrate some great successes we’re seeing this school year!
To recap, the survey was sent to all staff at partnership sites with coaches who lead COST and focus on culture and climate efforts. At sites where we don’t have coaches, the survey was sent just to staff who had students receiving a Seneca service. We had over 200 respondents from 18 schools and the average time it took to complete the survey was just over 4 minutes! Even within this short time frame we received a slew of valuable feedback. Here is what we learned:
Culture and Climate Goals
Student Progress Monitoring
In addition to these quantitative measures, we received 131 positive comments! It was really great to hear so much positive feedback from partnership staff – even referencing how helpful it is to know their student’s internal working model!!! Here’s a sampling of what was said:
These comments warm my heart and truly make me proud to be a part of this amazing effort. I hope they also bring you a bit of joy! Keep up the great work!
Blog Post Written by:
Robin Detterman, Executive Director of School Partnerships
All-In! Partnership Team