The COVID pandemic pushed our sectors of education and community wellness in so many ways. It also led to some additional funding pathways intended to encourage schools and systems to implement innovative approaches to meet the exacerbated challenges at hand.
Valor Collegiate Academies in Nashville, TN utilized their federal recovery funds to partner with Seneca Family of Agencies (a California-based nonprofit mental health organization) to develop and pilot an innovative model of school-based wraparound to reduce chronic absenteeism.
For every student (and family) who is struggling with school attendance, there are unique circumstances and barriers at play. So to effectively address chronic absenteeism, we need service models that are flexible, holistic, and able support the student and family in whatever domains need attention and help.
Through a strengths-based approach, the Compass Care model engages families, builds a shared understanding of the barriers they’re facing, and collaborates with them in designing action steps and strategies to overcome the challenges. We also build partnerships with community organizations to help families and school communities access additional resources.
Barriers to school attendance and academic success often occur in domains that schools have not typically had adequate resources or staffing capacity to support, such as basic needs, physical health considerations, housing/eviction protection, etc. Equipping school-based Family Partners with the tools, training, and resources necessary to provide effective holistic support to students and families strengthens families’ networks of support and sets students up for greater academic success and future opportunities.
Through staff interviews during our 2-year pilot at Valor, we’ve also learned that our program is having an impact on teacher wellness. As one Valor staff member said, “[Compass Care] answers the questions of a lot of teachers: ‘I’m doing a lot for my students in the classroom. I know there’s more going on in the kid’s/family’s life. What can we do? How can we have more time and attention for those additional needs?' That’s the gap that the Compass Care Team fills for us.” We will be working to further explore and assess ways our program can continue to have a positive impact on teacher wellness and retention.
This video lifts up the voices of students, family members, and staff in speaking to the impact of the work and the data we gathered through the first year implementing this program.