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Maine Children’s Cabinet
“Working Together for Maine Children and Families”
170 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0170
Phone: 287-4349 Fax: 287-4375
Dear (Superintendent; Karen Westburg, Director Bureau of Child and Family Services; Joan Smyrski, Director of Children’s Services, BDS; Barry Stoodley, Director, Juvenile Services Unit, DOC; CEO Psychiatric Facilities, and Chief Justice Leigh Saufley):
An increasing number of children and youth are experiencing transitions into or out of their home, school and community. These unplanned transitions result in the disruption of their educational experience.
We are very pleased to share with you that leaders from the Departments of Behavioral and Developmental Services, Corrections, Education, and Human Services have been working together to develop a systems approach to address these issues. This initiative, Keeping Maine’s Children Connected, is an integrated approach to helping children and youth who experience school disruption due to homelessness, foster care placement, correctional facility placement, in-patient psychiatric care, or combinations of the above.
In order to accomplish this at the school and community level, each of you is being asked to designate a contact person/liaison from your (agency/office/school district). Enclosed with this letter is a description of the role this individual is being asked to fulfill and the type of individual(s) within your organization you may want to select to carry out this role. Also enclosed is a form for you to return to the Department of Education with the name, address and e-mail address of the individual(s) you are appointing.
A database will be established and maintained at the Department of Education with contact information for all of the individuals appointed across the school districts, psychiatric and juvenile corrections facilities, and agencies. The information can be accessed through the Department of Education Website.
The intent of the initiative is to simplify the process of transition to and from education programs so that these students can stay connected or re-connect to their education programs as soon as possible. By doing this we anticipate the following outcomes for the affected children and youth:
· improved educational outcomes through the continuity and completion of their educational program;
· a reduced number of school transitions in each student’s life; and
· an increased sense of belonging to the school and community.
An evaluation plan is in the process of being created to measure whether the state has achieved these objectives and to allow for modification of the process where needed based on the outcome measures.
A key component of the initiative is to create a standardized system of communication among state agencies, correctional facilities, in-patient psychiatric facilities and school districts through the development of an integrated protocol.
Following appointment of the contact people/liaisons, a three-tiered approach has been developed to support these individuals in furthering this work:
(1) Provision of a full day training program for the individuals. This training will provide an overview of the issues related to these populations, information about the resources available through the state agencies to assist in improving transitions for these students, and an opportunity to explore multiple strategies for addressing individual student’s needs;
(2) Ongoing regional training and meetings for the liaisons so they can remain up to date on policy changes and issues affecting these youth;
(3) Ongoing interagency systems training to increase understanding across systems of the roles and responsibilities of other disciplines and agencies.
We strongly believe that through collaboration we can improve educational outcomes for all youth in transition. This initiative, with your participation, can contribute to successful outcomes for these youth as they move through our systems. If you have questions about this initiative, please feel free to contact any of the individuals listed on the enclosed information sheet. We look forward to our work together to support educational excellence for these youth.
Susan Gendron, Commissioner, Dept. of Education
Martin Magnusson, Commissioner, Dept. of Corrections
John Nicholas, Commissioner, Dept. of Human Services
Sabra Burdick, Acting Commissioner, Dept. of Behavioral & Developmental Services
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