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MOUNT CARMEL — Children from the Little Friends Day Care had a surprise visit from the Easter Bunny thanks to the efforts of students from Mount Carmel’s Compass Academy Tuesday.
Students at the Academy were challenged to find a way to give back to the community. One of the ideas was to organize an Easter Egg hunt. In preparation for the event, the teenagers filled plastic eggs with candy and toys, made “bunny baskets” for the children, and acquired a bunny costume. The teens also cleaned up the town park the day before the event.
Children from Little Friends Day Care followed, from a distance, a very shy Easter Bunny. The walk ended at the town park. After sitting quietly, the children were able to coax the Easter Bunny over to them.
Students from Compass explained to the kids how to participate in an egg hunt, handed out bags to collect eggs, and then helped lead the children to find the eggs. Several eggs held coupons for larger prizes. After the egg hunt, the youth from Compass Academy provided other activities, including face painting and taking portraits with the Easter Bunny.
Mrs. Gidaro, the teacher supervising the Compass Academy students, said, “I’m very proud of the students. They worked very hard to put everything together for the kids. And I think everyone had a good time.”
Brandi McDowell, a senior at the academy, was a face painter. When asked what she had learned out of the whole experience she said that “It required a lot of patience, I really enjoyed watching the kids smile and have a good time.”
Our own President and CEO, Dan Heit, was formally invited to participate as a member of a multi-disciplinary stakeholder workgroup, under the leadership of the Child Welfare Council. This workgroup is tasked with developing recommendations for county child welfare finance reform. The workgroup is convened by Cathie Utz, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, and is comprised of state and county officials as well as providers. JusticeWorks expertise providing in-home services led to Dan’s appointment.
Federal law has changed significantly since the Adoption and Safe Families Act was passed to support state and county efforts to improve practice and service delivery geared toward keeping children safely in their own homes or ensuring timely permanence when they cannot remain with family. States and counties have been asked to expand the array of available services, including the expansion of evidence-based programs and decreasing the use of services that don’t have proven outcomes.
The role for the stakeholder workgroup will be to prioritize the alignment of state funds to support current child welfare practices focused on home and community-based services and prevention.
As a member of this workgroup, Dan will assist in the identification of the necessary action steps and decision points to develop recommendations for DHS’s consideration and the drafting of any recommended legislation.
We wanted to take a moment to recognize Compass Academy Lycoming Supervisor Ty Kanouff. Over the past year, Ty has been instrumental in the growth of Compass Lycoming in his supervisory position. He wears multiple hats in order to successfully manage a healthy alternative education setting. Ty shows up every single day and puts in maximum effort with the students in our program. He brings a huge personality that brightens the day of not only our students, but also our staff. He is tremendous for our culture and is a reason why many of us enjoy coming into work each and every day, especially for our students who have a history challenging relations with academics.
Ty started with JusticeWorks in April of 2015 as a Family Resource Specialist in Lycoming County, and was promoted to the Supervisor position in early 2016.
As a result of Ty’s contributions towards growing Compass Lycoming from 1 student on 1/29/16 to 34 students on 2/17/17, Ty has been promoted to Educational Director!
So please reach out to Ty and extend a congratulations to Ty, our new Educational Director!
On February 14, JusticeWorks YouthCare was awarded a contract with Philadelphia County to provide specialized support for victims of human trafficking, a tragic worldwide problem.
JusticeWorks will utilize 2 research-based programs to help young men and women who have had this traumatic experience. Our model will use The Council for Boys and Young Men, and Voices. Our trauma-informed program will provide empowerment support, life skills training, and linkages to other resources.
We look forward to our continued partnership with Philadelphia’s DHS to provide this critically important service.
Truancy is a major problem nationwide and often indicative of other factors affecting a child’s ability to attend school. JusticeWorks YouthCare Truancy programs are designed to identify the root causes of truant behavior, and to engage families as partners in eliminating truancy.
On November 3, 2016, Governor Wolfe signed new truancy legislation into law. In response to these changes, JusticeWorks developed the Attendance Improvement Program (AIP) with the goal of developing partnerships with schools, child welfare agencies, families, and youth in resolving the issues that cause habitual truancy.
The JusticeWorks Attendance Improvement Program (AIP) is designed as a diversion and educational service for students and families and is offered as a voluntary program. The target population is for elementary, middle, and high school students that have received three (3) unexcused absences and are in danger of progressing to habitual truancy.
We are pleased to announce that Adams County Children and Youth and West Chester School District in Chester County have contracted to implement our program in combating truancy. Other school districts have also expressed interest in our diversion program. Stay tuned as we track the success of this program.
JusticeWorks welcomes Franklin County as our newest Pennsylvania partner. We will be providing our STOPP program, Visit Coaching, and Nurturing Parenting Program. We look forward to our partnership with Director Douglas Amsley and the rest of the Franklin County Children and Youth team. JusticeWorks is committed to achieving positive outcomes for the children and families of Franklin County that we will be serving.
Sean was nominated and chosen to be a board member of the prestigious Adams County Children and Youth Services Advisory Board. He will be joining the Adams County Commissioners, town supervisors, and various representatives from the District Attorney’s office, school district, Children’s Advocacy Center and the community. Sean will serve a three year term on the board and assist in providing oversight, evaluation, promotion and participation in Children and Youth Service programming. The advisory board works directly with the Adams County Judges and the Children and Youth Administrator to ensure both the community’s needs are being met as well as the CYF caseworkers are being supported. Congratulations to Sean!
Michelle Hill (Permanency Specialist), Kim Buzzelli (Supervisor of Permanency Services), Lisa Snyder (Director of Indiana Branch of JWYC)
In June 2014, JWYC began conversations with Indiana CYS for the opportunity to become a SWAN Affiliate and provide these extremely beneficial services to children and families of Indiana County. In order to become an affiliate an agency must complete at least one full year of mentorship under a current PA SWAN affiliate. JWYC researched possible mentoring agencies and upon hearing wonderful reviews from CYS agencies across the state, we contacted Project STAR of the Children’s Institute in Pittsburgh.
Affiliation also requires an agency to become licensed as an Adoption Service (55 Pa. Code Chapter 3350) and as a Private Children and Youth Agency (55 Pa. Code Chapter 3680). JWYC successfully completed licensing inspections for both of the above licenses on July 17, 2015.
Numerous meetings were held between JWYC and Project STAR. A contract was signed and an official mentoring relationship was established on April 24, 2015. By June 2015, JWYC staff members, Kim Buzzelli and Lisa Snyder, accepted referrals for and began working on 5 Units of service for children of Allegheny County. JWYC staff were in frequent contact with both Bethany Leas and Debra Henry of Project STAR. They were extremely open to offering advice, feedback, and any needed assistance to ensure that JWYC staff were able to complete the absolute best service. JWYC could not have asked for a more friendly and cooperative agency to mentor under.
Connie Jones, SWAN Technical Assistant, was also involved in this process from day one, helping walk JWYC through the entire process. She was also available to answer questions and provide guidance. Lynn Grindle and Dianne Ott also of SWAN offered technical assistance and helped facilitate JWYC’s affiliation. Special thanks also goes out to Indiana County Children and Youth and in particular Suzette Prenni, CYS Youth Foster Care Coordinator, who demonstrated patience and guidance during our journey to affiliation.
JWYC is proud to announce that SWAN-Diakon formally approved JWYC to become an affiliate and the contract commenced in January of 2017. JWYC to date has completed 7 child preparation units of service, 10 child profile units of service and 5 family profile units of service. There are currently 4 services in process.
JWYC is looking forward to providing SWAN affiliation services for children and families throughout all of Pennsylvania. Staff are currently being recruited and trained to help expand this very valuable service to all counties in PA.
Compass Academy Mt. Carmel made the trek to Williamsport on Thursday, December 9th to duel Compass Academy Lycoming in the Second Annual Compass Cup. The Compass Cup is a competitive contest between the two sister schools. The Compass Cup was held at the Williamsport YMCA with three teams participating – Compass Mt. Carmel, Compass Lycoming Underdogs (grades 7-10) and Compass Lycoming Big Dawgs (grades 10-12).
Students participated in various Olympic-style events including Speedball, Tug-of-War, Track and Field, Trivia, 3 Point Contest and Flag Football. Each activity was facilitated by the Lycoming College student mentors. The mentors have been working with Compass Lycoming students for the past six weeks. At the end of the event, the teams had the opportunity to bond together with a Pizza Party.
Although Compass Mt. Carmel made a valiant effort, the Compass Cup will remain in Williamsport at Compass Lycoming, with the Big Dawgs winning the most overall gold medals.
See you next year for the rematch!
Trace Hill Photography is owned and operated by Laura Heller. It is located in Cogan Station Pennsylvania, just north of Williamsport.
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