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Getting Youth the Help They Need

Services for Binghamton Families and Children

“Years ago it wasn’t expected that all youths would graduate from high school,” Laura Bronstein says. “Now that is the goal.”

In recent decades, though, social problems have been intensifying while families and children’s needs have become more complex, creating challenges for financially strapped public schools to keep youths focused on their education.

To identify where children and their families need help, Bronstein, chair of the Department of Social Work in the College of Community and Public Affairs, has collaborated with Elizabeth Anderson, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education, to look across the disciplines of education, nursing and social work.

The two used their findings from a needs assessment funded with grants from the Binghamton University Research Foundation and the United Way to land a $52,000 Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation grant, which launched the Building Accessible Interdisciplinary Services for Bing- hamton Families and Children program in fall 2008.

Operating through spring 2010, the program placed a social-work graduate student and a nurse-practitioner student in each of two Binghamton city schools to work closely with staff, students and families in identifying issues that disrupt education.

“A referral from someone in the school would lead to a comprehensive health screening because there might be underlying health issues impeding education,” Anderson says. “Based on that, a psychosocial history might be done by the social work intern. The team would then pull together to look at the child holistically.”

“Our goal was to look at the whole child, the whole family, the whole school — to look at the context and see what the issues are that are impeding children’s success and to address them, whether they’re academic, physical health, mental health, psychosocial or a combination thereof,” Bronstein says.

The success of the program helped lead to a $5.6 million federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant awarded to Broome-Tioga BOCES, which includes subcontracts to Lourdes Hospital Youth Services and to the Center for Best Practices in Full-Service Community Schools at the Institute for Intergenerational Studies at Binghamton University. The institute was developed in 2009 to further the work begun by Bronstein and Anderson. The Safe Schools grant, called S.H.A.R.E. (Safe, Healthy Attitudes Require Education), serves 28,000 children in 53 schools throughout 10 Broome County school districts.

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Last Updated: 4/2/14