Friday June 27, 2008

Clearing the Way

A new grant will help remove barriers to learning success for students at Dayton's urban Catholic elementary schools.

Social services and mental health support for students attending Dayton's Catholic elementary schools will be enhanced through a new $433,000 grant from the Mathile Family Foundation to the University of Dayton's Center for Catholic Education.

Through the center's Urban Child Development Resource Center, the grant will help support the education of up to 1,400 inner-city children by providing behavioral, social and mental health counseling necessary for the student to come to the classroom ready to learn, said Linda Russell, director of the resource center.

"This grant will help address the needs of many inner-city children who may need help in overcoming obstacles to learning," Russell said.

"Some of these obstacles include emotional and behavioral issues resulting from exposure to drug addiction, domestic violence, fragmented family structures, discrimination or physical or sexual abuse. Some children are bombarded by negative influences and have witnessed acts of violence in their homes or neighborhoods," she said.

Russell said the center found that teachers in these schools felt they needed more support in handling students' behavioral and emotional disorders.

The grant will provide violence prevention education, individual and group counseling, family counseling and offer consulting services to faculty, crisis intervention and social services. In addition, the grant will fund a social worker position at Mary Queen of Peace school.

Russell said the urban resource center was established in 2003 because no other resources were available to meet the complex and critical needs of the children served by the schools.

The grant will provide services to five elementary schools – Mary Queen of Peace, Our Lady of the Rosary, Immaculate Conception, St. Brigid and St. Anthony – through the urban resource center.

"For many of these children, their Catholic elementary schools are safe places and are a haven from the strife they experience in their everyday lives," Russell said. "We are grateful to the Mathile Family Foundation for this grant that will help us address their needs and increase their chances for success in school and future life.