Children’s Home Society earns grant for Weis project

Children's Home Society has earned a $100,000 grant to track data from the community school project at C.A. Weis elementary.

Children’s Home Society of Florida has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. Funds will provide technology to collect and analyze performance data from the agency’s project at C.A. Weis Elementary School and two other schools in the state.

Using the performance data collected, CHS will learn which community school services have the greatest impact on academic achievement, student health and wellness, and community-defined goals.

“Working with the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, we will be able to better serve Florida’s most vulnerable communities,” said Michael Shaver, CEO of CHS. “Using performance feedback, we can appropriately adjust services within current community schools as we strategically expand our community school initiative throughout the state.”

The Weis project includes opening a clinic in the school to help students get their health care needs met. A doctor and a medical assistant will be provided by Escambia Community Clinics to treat students and provide well-care services.

Already in place is a behavioral center that provides a place for students to seek counseling, talk about problems they face at school or at home or to release stress though anger management sessions. Children’s Home Society provides an on-site counselor at Weis three days a week for students to see as needed.

The school is taking applications for a health services coordinator to run the medical and mental health clinics.

Last month Weis put the finishing touches on a community playground. There was no place for children to play unless they crossed a four-lane highway, sais Leighann South, director of the community school effort at Weis. So, community members suggested that a playground on the school grounds that would be open and available for anyone in the community. Escambia Community Clinics and the Children’s Home Society, the school’s primary sponsor, both gave up $106,000 in grants from Impact 100 to pay for the playground project.

The model for the program began in the 1970s, when founder Bill Milliken, then a youth advocate in New York City, came up with the idea of bringing community resources inside public schools.

Grants like those from Jessie Ball duPont Fund, a recent $15,000 grant from the Gulf Power Foundation and the grant from the University of Central Florida that helped launch the project are good signs.

And examples of what will make Weis — and all of Escambia’s schools for that matter — successful. Investment from throughout the community.