In a recent round of Innovation Grant opportunities made available by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) Blue River Services, Inc. (BRS) applied for and was awarded 2 separate grants totaling $300,000. In the first grant, BRS was awarded $100,000 and selected to serve as a statewide 21st CCLC Peer Support Partner. As a State Peer Partner, BRS will provide on-site peer coaching, support and train other grantees on using the Cayen data management system, assist IDOE 21st CCLC staff with statewide strategic and collaborative efforts, and manage 21st CCLC meeting logistics including space reservations, set up and anything else that might be needed to successfully host trainings. “As the statewide Peer Support Partner, BRS will work collaboratively with the State 21st CCLC staff to develop and implement new and improved strategies and expectations, and/or expand upon the current ones,” states Julia Baylor, BRS Director of Children’s Services. “We will be able to bring to the table years of experience, a working knowledge of what it takes to run successful programs, ideas and information regarding various types of professional development that would be beneficial to providers around the state, and a willingness to share our established policies, procedures, forms and other documentation.”
“When an afterschool program is done right, it can be the very best thing in a child’s life” states Baylor. “BRS staff have a heart-felt desire for every child in Indiana, and the US for that matter, to have access to quality afterschool programming. It is this desire that prompted us to apply for the 2nd grant and request funding for afterschool programming at Bradie Shrum Elementary.” BRS was awarded $200,000 in the second grant and afterschool programming will be made available to students beginning with the 2020-21 school year.
In writing a proposal for expansion, current 21st CCLC grantees were asked to work with school officials, grant partners and other stakeholders to identify a new pilot 21st CCLC site and program implementation plan. The grant opportunity was specific for expansion to a new 21st CCLC programming site, not currently included in a 21st CCLC RFP. In development of their application, BRS met with Brent Minton, SCS Director of Assessment & Program Improvement, Nicole Colwell, Dean of Students, and Elementary Principal, Jerry Hickey, to discuss 21st CCLC requirements, target number to be served, and focus area. “This grant expansion provides enough funding to serve 80 students for one year of programming”, states Baylor. “Blue River Services, Inc. will write another proposal for an additional 4 years of funding for Bradie Shrum in August of 2020.”
“The desire to seek funding for a program at Bradie Shrum came while at a Washington County Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) meeting recently” Baylor said. “Staff were discussing the services that BRS provides to East Washington students through the 21st CCLC program. One of the PCA members who was also in attendance expressed her disappointment that Salem schools did not have the same opportunities. Upon learning of this expansion opportunity, we immediately contacted SCS.”
“Not only is SCS interested in offering a quality afterschool program, but of great interest is the ability of BRS to provide counseling and therapy to students and families in need”, states Minton, “The corporation is excited and eager to partner with BRS”.
Heather Richard, who is directly responsible for overseeing all aspects of afterschool programming at BRS is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate. Richard explains that her plans are to not only include all of the basics of afterschool programming such as homework assistance, tutoring and academic enrichment activities, but to also include counseling and therapy programing along with various other needed support services for children and families.
The program will be offered to all children, K – grade 5, residing in the SCS district. Priority for enrollment into the program will be given to those students who are from low income families and/or are performing below standard in math and/or reading. Also, students with below average or declining report card grades, students who are not completing their homework assignments, and students with below state recommended attendance rates will be targeted. School administrators will encourage participation as a means of obtaining specialized help. Additionally, children identified as in serious need of a safe and secure afterschool environment as identified by school principal/counselor and the local Division of Family and Children’s Services Department will be accepted. Transportation home from the program each day will be provided.