How can we collaborate better, evaluate better, and layer our systems of support to make sure that the right kids receive the right therapy services in schools?  At the recent Get IN Chicago summit, Colleen Cicchetti of Lurie Children’s Hospital posed that question to a standing room only crowd of therapists, teachers, principals, non-profit administrators, researchers, and community members.  Invitees to Garfield Park Behavioral Hospital learned how schools and community organizations can leverage their services and ultimately reduce violence.  The Summit focused on Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT), an approach proven to reduce aggressive behavior and increase impulse control.  As Dr. Cicchetti pointed out in her opening remarks, CBT has one of the strongest records of success among minority youth – making it a crucial part of Get IN Chicago’s service strategy to make safer communities and brighter futures in the neighborhoods where support is needed the most.

panel groupMashana Smith (CPS), Ellen Kennedy (Tilden), Christina Terrell (Children’s Home + Aid), and Colleen Cicchetti (Lurie Children’s Hospital) joined Get IN Chicago as moderators and panelists.

Schools continue to be the best place to reach kids in need of therapy, but service providers and community partners are often confused by the steps they need to take.  Along with Dr. Cicchetti, the panelists at the Summit – Ellen Kennedy from Tilden Career Community Academy, Mashana Smith from Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and Christina Terrell from Children’s Home + Aid – had plenty of advice to providers hoping to collaborate with CPS:

  1. Start with Smart Connections.  School principals must sign off on service providers, so start with principals who are open to working with you.  To find good match schools for your organization, especially based on neighborhood or services offered, utilize the CPS Office of Social and Emotional Learning (OSEL – 773-553-1830).  OSEL has SEL specialists ready to work with providers in each network.  OSEL also knows which CPS schools have behavior teams in place, making them open and ready for mental health services.  CPS Network Chiefs can also provide information about which schools may be a good fit for your organization.
  2. Ensure Effective Services.  When you approach a school, know which services you can provide and which group of students you hope to benefit.  Solid screening tools can help you reach the set of students you aim to reach.  Remember, different schools have different needs.  Be open to adapting your course to make sure your intervention works for the school as well as your organization.
  3. Collaborate and Communicate.  Once you start services, keep teachers updated about your curriculum.  Many are more than happy to reinforce aspects of your program or provide feedback about specific students if you keep them involved.  Organizations can also attend the monthly community meetings held at many schools to start relationships and build trust with parents and families.  Talk to your school’s principal for more information.confidentiality

With support from Get IN Chicago, the team from Lurie Children’s Hospital will continue to work with our CBT grant recipients in the coming year.  The group will meet monthly in professional learning communities and benefit from one-on-one consultations about their programming from Lurie staff.

Get IN Chicago looks forward to hosting additional programming on other topics relating to youth violence as well.  Stay tuned for information about the next Get IN Chicago Summit focusing on parent engagement in late fall!