Improving Children's Mental Health in Racine County (Phase II)

Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative Phase II: Enhancing social emotional development of elementary school youth in Racine

Full Project Name:Improving Children's Mental Health Through School & Community Partnerships (Phase II)Primary Community Organization:Racine County Human ServicesPrimary Academic Partner:Michelle Broaddus, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineAward Amount:$995,646
Award Date
Project Duration:60 months

Project Description Narrative:

Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative Phase II

Social emotional learning skills are linked to school achievement, however the social emotional health of students is often not systematically assessed. In the Racine Unified Schools District (RUSD), this is not systematically assessed past 4K. The next available data on social emotional health of RUSD students is collected in 7th grade, and reveal a downward trajectory in the social emotional health of youth between 4K and 7th grade. To improve behavioral health in the community, project partners have identified the social emotional health and development of young children as a priority in order to develop early interventions and policies that can have long-term, positive impacts. This project seeks to enhance the social emotional development of 3rd-5th grade elementary school students in the RUSD on the Panorama Social Emotional Learning student survey in the areas of Emotion Regulation and Social Awareness by:

  • Increasing coordination of and exposure to evidence-based opportunities to learn about social emotional development for parents of 4K-5th grade RUSD students
  • Creating a school environment that supports students' social emotional (SE) health by educating all child-serving personnel on ways to encourage SE learning interactions with RUSD youth
  • Expanding school-based activities that intentionally improve the SE health and development of elementary school students in RUSD
  • Improving coordination and pathways to mental health services for RUSD students

This project is part of AHW's Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative, an eight-year, $20 million initiative bringing together 10 community coalitions from across Wisconsin to address pressing mental health needs within their communities. The initiative is designed in three phases, providing a funded planning year, a five-year implementation period, and a two-year sustainable transformation phase.

Project Updates:

  • Established a strong coalition of committed partners that includes the Racine Unified School District (RUSD) and Racine County, among others in the community. Developed ongoing communication channels and regular staff and strategy team meetings to move work forward collaboratively and maintain accountability. The coalition partnerships have led to stronger relationships among existing partners and new partnerships with partners such as Aurora Healthcare, Children's Wisconsin, and the YWCA
  • Finalized a data use agreeement with the Racine Unified School District (RUSD) to obtain baseline data and implement the Panorama survey of social emotional learning (SEL). Results of the survey indicated the average score on Social Awareness was 3.78 out of 5 and the average score for the Emotion Regulation scale was 3.39 out of 5. Using this baseline data, project partners believe that the initial objective to improve these scores each by 5% was reasonable and achievable. Progress will be monitored annually
  • Identified and engaged in opportunities to learn about and promote social emotional development for parents of RUSD students through: implementation of a district-wide initiative called “Parent University” that included nine SEL focused workshops, participation in the “Week of the Young Child” and “Family Empowerment Day” in which the team designed an SEL-focused activity for families and provided resources to attendees
  • Developed an online system to track, monitor, and document SEL offerings to parent/caregivers, early education and school-age teachers, and other child-serving staff across RUSD and community providers. The data collected will allow the project to evaluate the impact of SEL programs on the target population
  • Developed a Trilogy/Network of Care website for behavioral health resources and referral pathways in Racine County, securing funding to support development and design of the site with local groups as well as a sustainability parter to ensure the website will continue post-funding. Established collaborations to promote the website, including presentations to nearly 300 school staff, that have resulted in triple the traffic and usage
  • Partnered with the RUSD to promote various SEL programs such as Second Step, Inner Explorer, and Morning Meeting throughout the school district. Programs are implemented for students alongside capacity-building opportunities for school staff that surveys show are reported as helpful in improving knowledge, confidence, and influencing teaching practices that incorporate SEL
  • Engaged in numerous activities to disseminate and expand project reach including distributing marketing materials at meetings, presentations, and strategy team convenings; distribution of a monthly newsletter; presentation at the Wisconsin Public Health Association Annual Meeting; presentation at the Advancing Behavioral Health Summit; presentation at a Department of Public Instruction conference; and was featured in the Racine Journal Times

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