GESD, DSS to continue program
GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education on Monday approved an agreement with the Fulton County Department of Social Services to continue the School Intervention Partnership Program.
DSS began supporting GESD families through the SIPP program after an agreement was signed in October that ran through the end of the 2019-20 school year. The memorandum of understanding approved by the school board this week will continue the program from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
During the first year of the program the county hired a single caseworker to provide preventive services to families of at risk students identified by the school district. Under the terms of the new memorandum, DSS has agreed to hire two full-time caseworkers to serve district families.
The school district will provide 25 percent of the salary and fringe benefits for both positions. The total cost is not expected to exceed $32,000. The school district’s share will likely be covered through a Title I grant through the U.S. Department of Education, the district is currently awaiting the release of Title funds by the state.
The stated goal of the program is “to keep families together, reduce the number of Persons of Need of Supervision and Juvenile Delinquency petitions, reduce the number of Child Protective Services reports and reduce foster care placements.”
Families who may be eligible to receive preventative services will be referred by district staff to the county caseworkers who will make the final determination on eligibility through home visits and evaluations.
Eligible families who agree to participate in the program may receive services from the caseworkers or referrals to receive services relating to case management, case planning, casework contacts, daycare, homemaker services, family planning, home management, clinical services, parent training, transportation services and emergency goods or shelter.
If a family is determined to be ineligible for program services, caseworkers will provide temporary services to families that request assistance for up to 30 days.
Each caseworker will work with up to 10 to 13 students at a time representing a full case load. Superintendent David Halloran said the district will primarily focus on referring families of multiple students exhibiting signs of chronic absenteeism to the caseworkers.
“We’re hoping that if you target families that have multiple kids with truancy, by one visit with one parent they’re going to impact the lives of three, four or five kids,” said Halloran. “That’s not without exceptions, there are single child homes that continue to be students of focus.”
Improving student attendance has been a huge focus for the school district in recent years that could prove to be a larger struggle in the coming school year following the mandated closure of schools and the adoption of a fully remote instructional model through the spring semester due to the coronavirus.
“It’s as important now as it’s ever been for sure because students have been out of school since March,” said Halloran.
Halloran acknowledged that students may struggle initially to readjust to regularly participate in school as the district prepares to reopen in the fall under a hybrid model in-person and remote learning model.
The district’s reopening plan calls for all students K-12 to be split into two teams at each grade level assigned to attend school in-person on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesday and Thursdays with each team attending school every other Friday. Students will receive remote instruction from home on weekdays that they do not attend school in-person.
Regardless of whether students are learning from school or from home, attendance will be taken daily.
“We’re hoping students are going to return to school in the hybrid model and attendance improves. It’s probably going to be a mixed bag, some kids are probably eager to get back to school for the social aspects and others developed habits of not attending school before we had the COVID shutdown,” said Halloran. “It is a compulsory thing; children are mandated to attend school between six and 16. Hopefully families comply and agencies employed to enforce kids attending school are effective.”