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We are excited to be working with several states to help implement Check & Connect statewide. Each state has its own unique focus and goals.
Florida's State Personal Development Grant (SPDG), Successful Graduates, is designed to respond to concerns about the graduation, academic proficiency, and dropout rates of students with disabilities. The projects funded by the SPDG seek to build capacity to increase school completion rates of secondary-aged students with disabilities (grades 6–12). Funding is provided to support the implementation of Check & Connect and/or to scale-up an existing initiative related to the Strategic Instruction Model (SIM™) and to enlist parental support of these practices.
Districts are invited to apply for support for two years of implementation of Check & Connect and/or the scaling up of the Strategic Instruction Model™. Invited districts are selected based on their performance on SPP Indicators 1 (graduation rate), 2 (dropout rate) and 3c (participation and performance on statewide assessments). Implementation sites are provided with financial support for start-up costs, funds for travel to allow school personnel to attend professional development in Check & Connect or SIM™, funds for substitutes or stipends, onsite and virtual coaching, teacher and student materials, and ongoing technical assistance to ensure fidelity of implementation of Check & Connect and/or SIM™.
Grade Level: Grades 6-12
Student Population Served: Students with disabilities
Referral Criteria: Each school sets its own Check & Connect referral criteria
Implementation Options: Most schools use existing staff as Check & Connect mentors, but schools can use their SPDG funds to assist in funding a dedicated Check & Connect mentor.
Use with Existing Initiatives: Each district which participates in the SPDG is required to consider how Check & Connect will fit with their existing initiatives.
Funding: Florida's SPDG is a five-year project funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), United States Department of Education.
Contact: Peg Sullivan, SPDG Co-director, Florida Gulf Coast Coast University, firstname.lastname@example.org, 239.590.7748
Several years ago, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education decided to offer Check & Connect as an option for its schools with especially high dropout rates among students with and without disabilities. Check & Connect staff trained staff from Missouri's nine regional professional development centers, who then provided Check & Connect training to interested schools in their respective regions. These regional professional development centers also provide ongoing support to schools implementing Check & Connect, especially those without a designated Check & Connect coordinator.
When: The first group of sites started implementing Check & Connect in Fall 2012. More schools have since joined in; these sites began implementing Check & Connect in Fall 2013.
Scope: Currently, about 50 schools altogether are implementing Check & Connect.
Grade Level: Most of the Missouri schools are implementing Check & Connect with secondary students.
Student Population Served: Students with and without disabilities.
Referral Criteria: Each school sets its own Check & Connect referral criteria.
Implementation Options: Some schools are using teachers as Check & Connect mentors, some are using AmeriCorps volunteers as Check & Connect mentors, and some are using dedicated Check & Connect mentors.
Use with Existing Initiatives: About half of the Missouri schools have adopted Check & Connect as part of their dropout prevention efforts; the other half are using it as a Tier II intervention.
Funding: The Check & Connect training and regional professional development support for Check & Connect implementation is provided by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which plans to support these activities indefinitely. Individual schools and districts must find or fund their own Check & Connect mentors.
Contact: Barb Gilpin, Assistant Director, Effective Practices, Office of Special Education, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Barb.Gilpin@dese.mo.gov, 573.751.7661
The state of Utah has implemented Check & Connect statewide, specifically as an intervention service to support children in foster care. Implementation has been seamless because school districts already had mentors serving children in foster care. Check & Connect provided the evidence-based prevention model and programmatic guidelines they needed for this at-risk population of students. Districts are now providing similar services regardless of which district the students are in – critically important since the students are highly mobile.
When: The state of Utah began training in April of 2013 and expected full implementation from school districts during the 2013-2014 school year. This aggressive implementation timeline was only possible because they already had the infrastructure in the form of an existing mentoring program and an established funding source.
Scope: The state of Utah has about 1,600 school-age children in foster care. The majority of those children attend school in 19 school districts. Each of those districts employs enough Check & Connect mentors to meet the ratios outlined in the Check & Connect training manual.
The Utah State Office of Education works in partnership with the State Division of Child and Family Services to understand which school districts have the largest populations of children in foster care. In order for school districts to be eligible for funding, they need to meet a threshold of eligible children in their district. Nineteen of the fourty districts have demonstrated need and receive funding to provide Check & Connect.
Grade level: Mentors serve children from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Student population served: Children and youth in foster care.
Referral criteria: No referral required. If a child is in state care, they are automatically eligible for a Check & Connect mentor. A child's ability and success in school determines the level of intervention a mentor will provide. Foster parents or caseworkers can opt out of the program if they feel the child does not need services.
Implementation options: Some school districts have embraced Check & Connect in an innovative way, eliminating self-contained classrooms previously designated for students in foster care and instead providing those same students with a less restrictive setting and a platform for support and success. Implementation has been successful and smooth.
Use with existing initiatives: Our implementation has been relatively smooth because each school district had existing personnel; they just needed training. The Check & Connect mentors are hired as dedicated mentors — they do not have other responsibilities in their school districts outside of their role as mentors.
Funding: The Utah Legislature appropriates a line item of funding for educating youth in state care. This funding covers all educational programs for youth in juvenile justice facilities, classrooms in residential treatment centers, classrooms in alternative high schools, etc., and Check & Connect.