Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $999,040)
The County of Montgomery, in southeastern Pennsylvania, has approximately 831,000 residents and 21 public school districts. The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mission is to provide an accessible network of resources that fosters, supports, and enhances the health and well-being of residents. HHS works closely with schools, families, and communities to deliver services, supports, and awareness efforts that promote wellness. Shocking results in the County’s 2019 PA Youth Survey (PAYS) showed 180 students reporting bringing a weapon to school. This number represents at minimum 180 chances in one school year where a serious act of school violence could have occurred. Additionally, many students reported feeling unsafe and anxious, which interferes with their ability to be successful academically. Acts of violence disrupt the learning process and have a negative effect on students, the school, and the broader community. HHS believes it is well positioned for this grant due to its ability to mobilize people, skills, resources, processes, and teams to protect its youth.
School violence is a serious, preventable public health issue. HHS proposes taking a comprehensive public health approach to preventing school violence and through this funding will (1) educate students with the skills they need to prevent violence/bullying, (2) equip teachers with tools to effectively and efficiently manage the classroom dynamic in order to prevent violence and youth bullying, (3) provide opportunities for partner school districts to further enhance their overall school safety strategy through the integration of data, and (4) train teachers to foster a positive school community through professional development. The combination of these four strategies will benefit teachers, students, and school systems by empowering teachers to address unwanted behaviors, such as bullying within their classrooms, and encourage districts to organize and proactively use multiple data sources to promote a positive school climate.
HHS expects to reach approximately 8,700 middle and 6,000 K-6th students by training 365 teachers to deliver evidence-based violence prevention lessons and classroom management practices across eight partner school districts. Those eight school districts will also enhance their school safety strategy through refined data integration procedures and approximately 1,675 teachers will receive professional development to cultivate their social emotional competence. HHS will coordinate strategies and subcontract with qualified providers in compliance with the County procurement infrastructure to respectively lead each initiative and provide program evaluation activities that rely on strict adherence to principles of effective and ethical practices.