Basic Philosophy • Target Population • Objectives • Benefits
The philosophy of CIS is based on the idea of keeping students in school by directly addressing all of the problems and concerns that cause the child not to do well in school or consider dropping out. CIS’s comprehensive program provides students with the opportunity to overcome obstacles thus making it easier for them to stay in school, successfully learn, and prepare for life.
The CIS program is an “in-school” (8+ hour days, 5 days a week, year round) multi-disciplinary approach to increase each student participant’s opportunity to be successful in school by increasing the stay in school rate and improving attendance, academic performance, and behavior. The program encompasses and encourages partnerships with federal, state and local social service agencies, as well as private and community based organizations, local colleges, the private business sector, the community, churches, and public schools. CIS programs promote and facilitate the coordinated delivery of existing health, social, education, community, and other support services on elementary, middle school, and secondary campuses for the benefit of young people and their families.
Communities In Schools has been operating nationally for over 3 decades. In Texas, it is the most successful in-school “stay in school” program for over 2 decades, currently serving students in 27 communities. The long term goal of CIS is to keep students in school until they graduate, which will increase their opportunities for employment and their ability and desire to obtain a college education or vocational training. Ultimately, CIS works with students so that they can become successful contributing self-sufficient adults.
The CIS approach is simple, yet revolutionary, and it works!. An assumption of the CIS approach is that most of the human/social services necessary to help at-risk children, youth and their families are already in place – but in the wrong place. Troubled children, youth and their families are being asked to seek out the help they need from a confusing variety of sometimes disconnected agencies scattered throughout a typical community. CIS insists that it is the community’s responsibility to bring helping resources to its children, not the children’s responsibility to “figure out” where the community has located these resources.
This problem was stated in the publication, “Reaching Out to Youth”, A Report of the Commission on the Mental Health of Adolescents and Youth Adults by the Hogg Foundation. “Many youth fail to obtain the help they need for dealing with drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, troubles with friends, concerns about school-work, and other personal problems because they are scared, uncomfortable, or don’t know where to begin … Many perceive the traditional service delivery system, if they are aware of it at all, as virtually inaccessible due to distance, hours of operation, or cost. Despite the fact that a majority of youth spend most of their days in school, few services are offered in this setting.”
This report specifically cites Communities In Schools as one of the few effective school-based services available to students and their families.
CIS delivers or coordinates the delivery of services for the benefit of each child based on an analysis on what the child needs. CIS attempts to reverse the current practice, which requires students to seek help outside, and instead CIS arranges for outside help and/or the CIS Campus Coordinators to serve along-side teachers and counselors, as a coordinated team to keep children in school and provide a positive influence for success. Services are provided during the school day or afternoon at the student’s respective school. The school environment is the most neutral and familiar setting, outside of the family, for prevention/early intervention activities.
Our CIS programs are available to all students and families who need, are referred, or request our services. However, our targeted population are those students who are “at risk” of not doing well in school or society, including dropping out of school, because their academic, social, physical, economic, spiritual and emotional needs are not being adequately met. We provide our services at the school site, during and after school hours, at campuses in Alvin ISD, Angleton ISD, Columbia-Brazoria ISD, Pasadena ISD, Pearland ISD and Sweeny ISD.
Our case managed students are typically referred to our program by the school principals, counselors, teachers, and CIS staff. The definition of “at risk” is broad in scope. As defined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) it includes, students who exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:
- Have not met promotion requirements
- Perform poorly on achievement tests
- Have limited English proficiency
- Are victims of abuse or neglect
- Engage in delinquent conduct
- Reside in a residential placement facility
Students referred to CIS can also be those identified by the school administrators or counselors as “at-risk” based on their school attendance, grades, discipline problems, vocational needs, and their need for other services such as health, food, or clothing. CIS also targets students who possess multiple risk factors and are at high risk of not succeeding in school because of a combination of counter productive behaviors and conditions such as poverty, low self esteem, academic and/or behavioral difficulties on campuses, failing one or more classes, peer pressures, gangs, substance abuse, etc. These risk factors most often lead to failure at school or dropping out of school which in turn places a social and economic burden on the student, parents, schools and the community.
Our CIS objectives are to:
- Enhance educational, personal and social development
- Improve the youth’s self-esteem and job skills
- Improve school attendance and reduce the number of dropouts
- Encourage parental involvement in the education of their children
- Reinforce socially acceptable behavior in the classroom, at home, and in the community;
- Coordinate timely and integrated delivery of human services to at-risk youth and their families within the educational setting.
Benefits of CIS Programs:
- An increased positive self image for students
- Increase productive time for the students and teachers in the classroom
- Increase/Improved levels of academic performance
- Increase/Improved levels of attendance (reduce truancy and tardiness)
- Improve student physical, emotional, family, and social health
- Reduced disciplinary and/or behavioral problems in schools (school violence or anger)
- Reduced problems due to alcohol and other substance abuse
- An increased stay in school rate (decrease drop out rate)
- And all the other benefits that are realized when we “mold” and “mend minds” throughout the child’s growing-up period.