JCPS to receive over $3 million for preventing violence, addressing trauma

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 7:58 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Jefferson County Public Schools is getting more than $3 million over the next five years to help with strengthening school and community violence prevention and addressing student trauma from exposure to violence.

JCPS was one of only 11 school districts in the country to win U.S. Department of Education Project Prevent funding in this grant cycle, according to a release.

“We want to identify kids who might be manifesting trauma that looks like inappropriate behavior,” Dr. Katy DeFerrari, JCPS chief of staff and former assistant superintendent of culture and climate, said in the release. “This grant will help us provide support early so that students can get help and not be unnecessarily identified as a student with disabilities, continue to misbehave, or miss school, which we know is not something that will contribute to their success.”

There will be four main areas of focus when it comes to this funding such as early intervention, community education, screening and responding to trauma, tracking school and community violence trends.

Information below from the release about the initiatives:

  • Early Intervention Services through Volunteers of America (VOA) Mid-States Restorative Justice Program. JCPS currently partners with VOA to implement its Restorative Justice program at five elementary schools. Restorative Justice seeks to repair relations and end discord between youth with behavior challenges and those impacted. Through the grant, JCPS will expand its partnership with VOA to bring Restorative Justice to eight more elementary schools with children experiencing behavioral challenges and exhibiting trauma. Schools will be able to refer students with serious behavior problems and trauma to a VOA therapist for case management. JCPS will also hire two Board Certified Behavior Analysts to serve the eight new VOA schools. These professionals will observe, assess, and create support plans for students and help refer students to the Restorative Justice program.
  • Wide-Scale Community Education Workshops. JCPS will host six community educational workshops annually in communities with high rates of community violence. Community-based organizations will help present on topics related to root causes of violence and prevention. Examples include substance abuse, domestic violence support and education, recognizing youth experiencing bullying, signs of human/child trafficking, and sessions on dealing with court-involved youth or family members.
  • Professional Development for Staff on Screening and Responding to Trauma. JCPS will provide professional development on trauma-informed practices and Restorative Practices in the eight VOA-partnership schools. Examples of topics covered include exploring how trauma impacts behavior, emotional regulation, supporting resilience in students, racial trauma, psychological safety, coping strategies, and Adverse Child Experiences (ACES).
  • Tracking School and Community Violence Trends. JCPS will hire a data technician to track school and community violence trends and prevention efforts to help target school safety and behavioral support needs. This will allow JCPS to view school and community-based crime in real-time when events involve students, which will help the district better target interventions and services. The data technician’s work will also help JCPS track the impact of new and existing safety and violence prevention efforts.

Language should not be a barrier to student and family participation or access to behavioral and mental health supports and community education workshops. Document translation and on-site interpreters in the top five languages spoken in JCPS at workshops will be covered by the grant. In addition, VOA Restorative Justice services will feature interpreters trained in behavioral health support so no family or child is denied help due to a lack of English proficiency.

The Jefferson County Board of Education accepted $588,802 in funding for the first year of the grant, which began in January 2023. JCPS will receive $3,041,566 during the five-year grant period, contingent on funding availability and project performance.