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Program to support at-risk students

Resource type: News

Times Record News (Wichita Falls) |

Original Source

United Way International and Communities in Schools are Atlantic grantees.

By Judith K. McGinnis

Any number of things can affect a student’s school performance.

Raging hormones. Conflicts at home. Experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

A new pilot program funded by the United Way will begin this fall, giving an educational support group a powerful tool to help at-risk students overcome the most serious problems; mental health issues and substance abuse.

Helen Farabee MHMR will now be able to accept referrals from Communities In Schools, a nonprofit organization that aids at-risk kids.

“This is going to be a great resource for our project managers at WFHS,” said Xochitl Pruitt, executive director of CIS of Greater Wichita Falls. “This partnership with Helen Farabee will help us provide a holistic approach, finding the right kind of help for kids who have serious concerns.”

CIS has caseworkers in individual schools, providing adult mentors who connect students with basic needs and social support to keep them focused on academics. Pruitt says demand for services at Helen Farabee is always high so the additional resources will make an important difference.

“Our goal is to help students succeed, graduate and go on to a productive life,” said Marcy Thomas, Helen Farabee director of substance abuse services. “But sometimes what people identify as angry adolescent behavior, upon closer examination, can be depression, bi-polar disorder or substance abuse. Extra support at the right time can make a big difference for teens and their families.”

The United Way funding will make it possible for Helen Farabee counselors to see students identified for the program once a week, offering substance abuse education and treatment, mental health services and life skills support. Thomas says the pilot year provides an opportunity to fine-tune the program in hopes of seeing it expand to other schools.

“We’re very excited about this partnership and have great faith that in the future, we will be able to help more young people when they need it most.”

North Texas Area United Way president and CEO Diana Phillips says her agency is tackling the toughest issues facing the community by focusing on the root causes.

“We are no longer funding all agencies in town, but rather funding only programs and strategies that improve outcomes in education, income and health.”

© 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co.

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