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Grant for Steily

Helping military kids

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The South Puget Sound area is rich with children from all over the country. They have moved here in order for their parent to serve at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Sometimes it may be easy to overlook all that a military child goes through early on in their lives. They pack up and move every couple years, attend multiple schools before they reach middle school, and face months without their military parent while they are deployed. Military-connected children are often facing these emotional hardships during the school year, yet still put on a brave face each day when they enter their classrooms.    

Steilacoom Historical School District, who serves students in Steilacoom, DuPont, Anderson Island, unincorporated Pierce County, as well as part of Lakewood, is aware that nearly 40 percent of their enrolled students have a parent, if not two, currently stationed at JBLM. In an effort to continue to build a relationship of understanding and student support, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Partnership Grant Program awarded Steilacoom Historical School District a five-year $1.23 million grant. This grant will primarily focus on enhancing educational opportunities for military-connected students, however, the funds will also be used to support all students in the school district.

The Steilacoom Historical School District will implement The Safe and Sound Project, which is a three-tiered intervention system for students to either be referred to or self-identified to for additional support groups. This will be in response to the student's individual social and emotional needs. "The Safe and Sound Project will create an integrated system of social and emotional health services for military connected students across all schools," said Susanne Beauchaine, executive director for Student Services. The project is designed to help decrease the ratio of students to mental health support personnel, decrease the externalizing and internalizing behaviors that have been measured by student data, as well as increase system knowledge to identify and support students in emotional distress.

The first year of the grant is what is called the planning year and includes hiring of school-based social workers. The Safe and Sound Project will be able to employ the two full-time social workers for five years as well as provide professional learning opportunities for school teams and curriculum resources. The district already partners with JBLM, the Madigan Adolescence Medicine Division, and employs two Military Family Life Counselors, who provide short-term, non-medical school-based services for students.

This will be the first DoDEA grant that Steilacoom Historical School District has received.

"We are thrilled to have received this opportunity from the DoDEA," said Superintendent Kathi Weight. "We are proud of our relationship with our military families and community."

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