A high school program that seeks to curb truancy and suspensions will expand to Lawrence's four junior high schools, thanks to a $130,000 grant.
More than $180,000 in state and federal grant money will give a boost to three local programs designed to help keep youths on track. The programs include a new effort that will give suspended students a structured learning program.
The Juvenile Justice Authority, a state agency established to help "community planning teams" across the state in their search for answers to juvenile crime and related problems, announced the grants on Friday.
Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities (WRAP), a program that places Bert Nash Community Mental Health social workers in local high schools, received $130,000. WRAP is at Lawrence High School, Lawrence Alternative High School and Free State High School, but will expand to the four Lawrence junior high schools.
Tom Petrizzo, Bert Nash operations director who wrote the grant application, said the organization is interviewing social workers for the WRAP junior high programs. WRAP employees talk with students about their concerns and problems, hoping to curtail truancy, suspensions and discipline referrals.
Petrizzo said school and Bert Nash officials involved with the WRAP program decided to focus on students after they were suspended also, and the Suspension Intervention Project was born. The program will start soon with the JJA's $40,899 grant.
"This gives the kids who are suspended a structured environment, with a place to go and curriculum provided by the school," Petrizzo said.
"We'll also have other structured activities. This is geared toward pro-social activities," he said.
A site for the mandatory program hasn't been located, but Petrizzo said the school district is searching for space off current school property.
"It's a collaborative project with the school district, so this is a very positive boost to both," Petrizzo said.
The Douglas County Citizen Review Board received $10,460 for a program for 10- to 15-year-olds after their first brush with the law. The board works with the juveniles in recommending services and positive activities to address the root causes of the original offense.
The WRAP grant came from the Kansas Youth Authority's Make a Difference grant program, paid for by state taxes and private donations to the Kansas Endowment for Youth.
The suspension and Citizen's Review Board grants came from federal money distributed by the Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.