A psychologist and a social worker from Mt. Hope Family Center have teamed up with the staff of a city elementary school to help children and their families deal with traumatic situations.
The partnership was proposed by the University of Rochester's Mt. Hope Family Center as one way to meet students' emotional needs when they arise at school.
"Staff members at School 36 have told us that they don't have the training and resources to deal with the trauma, adversity and stress in their kids," said Michael Lynch, a psychologist at Mt. Hope. Some students have behavioral and emotional difficulties, others have faced multiple suspensions from school.
The work at Mt. Hope Family Center, which is a program of the University's Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, emphasizes prevention and early intervention when dealing with families who have been referred by the county Department of Social Services. Each year, more than 350 Rochester-area children participate in its programs.
The cooperative arrangement with the City School District began in September, but has been bolstered in recent weeks by a $37,000 grant from United Way of Greater Rochester for school-based parent support services. The partnership also brings with it in-service workshops for school staff, consultation with teachers and parents, and enrollment in special Mt. Hope programs for a limited number of children.
Once the school district approved the plan, one of the first needs identified by the staff at School 36 was assistance with children whose family members have died or children who have experienced trauma of other kinds. The school is located at 85 St. Jacob St. in northeast Rochester.
"The United Way funds now will allow us to strengthen our work at School 36 and to expand to a second site, School 3 on Adams Street," said Lynch, who is involved with the after-school and summer camp programs at Mt. Hope.
The grant will support parent group meetings and other interaction for families with children at both schools. In addition, a social worker from Mt. Hope will work at the schools one day a week on family-school concerns.
"We will be evaluating the effectiveness of what we do," Lynch explained. "If this is successful, we would consider developing a proposal to expand it."