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S.A.S.S. Conference 2011 Overview of the Alternative Suspension program (development process, objectives, curriculum) Program impact (target youth, risk.

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Presentation on theme: "S.A.S.S. Conference 2011 Overview of the Alternative Suspension program (development process, objectives, curriculum) Program impact (target youth, risk."— Presentation transcript:


2 S.A.S.S. Conference 2011

3 Overview of the Alternative Suspension program (development process, objectives, curriculum) Program impact (target youth, risk and protective factors, outputs and outcomes) Questions AGENDA 15 min. 10 min.

4 Numerous organizations and school boards are trying to address the problem of school dropout. They offer placement and academic resources to young people who have already dropped out and are ready to undertake new steps. Few, however, work on issues that arise before the problem reaches a critical stage, that is, before the youth is too involved in the events that lead to them dropping out of school. The direct correlation between repeated suspensions and dropping out of school prompted the founders of Alternative Suspension to develop an intervention structure to address this problem. INTRODUCTION

5 PHILOSOPHY A suspension from school has come to represent a failure for the student, the parents, and the school. The Alternative Suspension Program aims to make this time spent away from school an overall success, for everyone involved.

6 DEVELOPMENT PROCESS Strong relationships with schools Asset development based approach Research based vs. Leaps of faith Clear, attainable and measurable outcomes Solid and expanding financial structure Continued quality of services External evaluation

7 THE PROGRAM Alternative Suspension is a resource for students who, for different reasons, are referred by the school they attend. The goal of this program is to decrease the number of repeated suspensions by offering young people an opportunity to transform the time they spend away from school into a positive experience all of which is accomplished through educational workshops, individual interventions and group activities.

8 TARGET GROUP Alternative Suspension focuses on adolescents ages 12 to 18 who are experiencing difficulties with their school and social development either on a recurring or sporadic basis. These young people often come from difficult socio-economic environments or ethnically diverse backgrounds, populations that are often at the centre of the school dropout phenomenon.

9 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS A neutral place: In order to remove the young person from his/her environment, the Alternative Suspension program always takes place outside the school walls. A minimum of three days: The minimum stay is 3 days so that a confidential relationship can be developed. A tailored intervention: The small-group method allows for establishing an important tie with the young person, while acting directly on the cause of the suspension. A balanced intervention: Alternating individual meetings with group workshops allows for an effective intervention.

10 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS A channel of communication: Regular communication with the school and the parents allows for all players to be involved and to maximize the impact of the intervention. An accompanied return to school: The youth worker accompanies the student when he/she returns to school to present the results of his/her stay in the program. A follow-up: After their time spent in the program, the youth worker organises individual follow-up meetings with the participants to review their progress and reiterates the commitments made by the students during their reintegration process.

11 CURRICULUM Minimum 3 day participation in a neutral environment outside of the school setting (Y). Individual sessions and small group workshops (anger management, reactions towards authority, etc.). Homework tutoring and a chance to catch up on school work. Daily contact with the students parents.

12 CURRICULUM Return to school accompanied by a youth worker (school staff and parents participate in session). Individual follow-up meetings (2-3) with the participants after their time spent in the program. Follow-up with the school staff and the parents. Educational outings to vocational schools Referrals to internal (Y) and external resources.

13 SCHOOL APPROCHES TO SUSPENSIONS 1 - The program is used as a preventative measure prior to a suspension. The students referred to the program do not deserve a suspension but have shown some worrisome signs and the school staff wants to take action before the students get into trouble. The program is seen solely as a preventative measure to help youth; it is not used as a disciplinary measure. 2 - A suspension results in a automatic referral to the program. Alternative Suspension is the main resource used when a student is suspended from school, regardless of the reason. The program basically replaces home suspensions. If there is a spot available at the point of service and the parents are in agreement, the student is normally sent to the program. Every school has its own vision when it comes to student discipline – and by extension – its approach to suspensions. Five general approaches to suspensions have been noted:

14 FIVE GENERAL APPROCHES 3 - The program is part of the regular options the school considers and referrals are made on a case by case basis. The school tries to identify the students for whom the program would be useful. The decision to refer a student to the program is normally made in regards to the reason for the suspension or the students personal profile (the behaviours and profiles targeted can vary greatly from school to school). 4 - The program is used when other options have failed. Alternative Suspension is used when all other disciplinary measures attempted with the student have been exhausted. The students referred to the program are considered serious cases with a long history of troubled behaviour. 5 - The program is the youths last resort. These are the most serious of cases; the situation has become unmanageable by the school. The program is generally taken as a last step prior to transferring the student to another school. Some students are sent to the program while they await transfer.

15 ALTERNATIVE SUSPENSION IS… FOR THE SUSPENDED STUDENT A structured and safe environment provided by qualified youth workers. An opportunity for the student to reflect on their behaviours and share their thoughts. An opportunity to catch up on and receive help with schoolwork. One-on-one meetings and group workshops. FOR THE COMMUNITY / PARENTS Supervision for students during the suspension. An approach whose aim is to help the student reintegrate into school and society. Additional program workers who intervene with troubled youth. A referral service for youth toward other community resources.

16 ALTERNATIVE SUSPENSION IS… FOR THE SCHOOLS An added resource for dealing with troubled youth. A continuation of the students schooling during the suspension period. A service adapted to the needs of the student and the school. Support for the reintegration process after the suspension. FOR THE YMCA Opportunity to implement a proven research and asset development based program in their communities. Opportunity to develop a solid working relationship with local school boards and schools. Additional resources to intervene with youth

17 RISK AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS Here are some risk and protective factors addressed by the program. Short term: Awareness by the student of their problematic behaviours and the root causes. Improvement of academic results. Expanded network of social support for the participating student (referrals). Decreased associations with delinquent peers. Medium term: Decrease in aggressive, impulsive, disruptive and antisocial behaviours. Increase in academic and professional aspirations and renewed motivation towards school. Decrease in school suspension and completion of school year (less dropouts).

18 EVALUATION Alternative Suspension has benefited from an assessment tool that few programs have the opportunity to take advantage of, namely a three-year formal assessment process led by experts from the firm CAC International. The results exceeded expectations, and the assessment process showed that the methods and principles used in the program effectively contributed to reducing risk factors associated with dropping out of school.



21 14 PROGRAM SITES IN QUEBEC AS AS AS AS AS AS 2X A AA AS AS AS AS Québec Montréal Longueuil Valleyfield City of Québec AS Repentigny Joliette AS Huntington AS Trois-Rivières

22 PROGRAM SITES NATIONALLY AS Chilliwack (BC) AS Edmonton 2 sites (AB) AS Regina (SK) AS Winnipeg (MB) AS Moncton (NB) AS Halifax and Cape breton (NS) AS St-Johns and Corner Brook (NL) Moose Jaw (SK) Abbotsford(BC)


24 RESOURCES The YMCA of Regina (306) 757-9622 John Bailey Director of YMCA Alternative Suspension Alternative Suspension Program – Regina


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