Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,999,760)
For the last 20 years, Coloradoans have been disproportionately impacted by targeted school violence, traumatizing survivors and killing students and staff. Colorado youth also struggle with bullying, mental health issues, and suicidal ideation. In 2020, Colorado’s teen suicide was almost twice the national rate. To prevent school violence and address these behavioral and mental health challenges, the proposed project seeks to train at least 40 Colorado schools on the Safe Communities Safe Schools (SCSS) Model.
The SCSS Model provides a comprehensive approach to school violence prevention with a step-by-step process for gathering and examining school-level data (e.g., climate survey, discipline data) to identify needs (e.g., bullying, fights, mental health concerns, school climate), build and implement an individualized school safety action plan, and monitor impact (e.g., violence, disparities by race/ethnicity). The SCSS Model was recently evaluated through our NIJ Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, where assessing and building schools’ implementation readiness (i.e., capacity and motivation to adopt and deliver strategies and programs) improved the quality of program delivery. The implementation science literature finds that improving readiness also improves outcomes (see Fixsen et al., 2014; Fixsen et al., 2005; Scaccia et al., 2015). Multidisciplinary school teams and their community partners (e.g., law enforcement, mental health services) will receive training and technical assistance to support their implementation capacity including how to gather and use data to identify strengths and needs, select trainings for students and staff to address needs, adopt evidence-based practices and programs to improve violence prevention, and sustain their efforts.
The project has three main goals for improving safety in Colorado’s schools, including to: (1) assess and address the violence prevention needs and implementation readiness of participating Colorado schools to adopt the SCSS Model; (2) train school staff, students, and community stakeholders on the SCSS Model, including a positive school climate, bystander
reporting, information sharing policies, trauma-informed mental health support, and threat and suicide risk assessment; and (3) support the effective implementation and sustainability of the SCSS Model and each school’s safety action plan through tailored technical assistance and training.
We have assembled a strong team of prevention experts, experienced trainers, and community partners, including the Colorado School Safety Resource Center, Colorado Attorney General’s Office, National School Safety Center, National Association of School Resources Officers, and Colorado Departments of Education and Criminal Justice. Trainings and materials will be disseminated to U.S. schools through our state and national partners.