Child wellbeing – Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, our United Way partnered with Pineville Elementary School to implement The Leader in Me, a school transformation process based on Dr. Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This process has been used around the world and shown to increase attendance, decrease behavioral problems, and lead to higher scores and grades. It teaches "soft skills" that help students learn those attitudes that are so important throughout life: showing up on time, taking responsibility, and showing leadership. The program has proven to increase children’s self-confidence and their ability to function well in social contexts. Measurable outcomes include improved academic performance, better attendance, and far fewer disciplinary issues. Even overall school performance scores have been enhanced.
Lessie Moore Elementary School also serves the three census tracts served by this Project. We've partnered with them also, matching them (for example) with Atmos Energy for a special Parents' Night at the end of the 2018-2019 school year and handing out children's books to all who wanted them. Principals of both schools can call our staff for help and special projects at any time.
In addition to our partnership with Pineville Elementary, we partner with two local evidence-based programs. The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) works by having specially trained nurses regularly visit young, first-time moms-to-be, starting early in the pregnancy, and continuing through the child’s second birthday. The expectant mothers benefit by getting the care and support they need to have a healthy pregnancy. At the same time, new mothers develop a close relationship with a nurse who becomes a trusted resource they can rely on for advice on everything from safely caring for their child to taking steps to provide a stable, secure future for them both. Through the partnership, the nurse provides new mothers with the confidence and the tools they need not only to assure a healthy start for their babies, but to envision a life of stability and opportunities for success for both mother and child. NFP is operated by the state of Louisiana’s Department of Hospitals.
In addition, for ten years the United Way of Central Louisiana has funded a program known as Parents as Teachers through the Volunteers of America. Though it is also a home-based visitor program, Parents as Teachers has a somewhat wider eligibility window than NFP and makes an excellent corollary to it. Its workers are not nurses but are trained with an evidence-based curriculum. Parent education is delivered through home visits, personal visits, and group meetings. The main goal of Parents as Teachers is to provide children with a better start in life, and success in school.
In addition, we have a close working relationship with the Children’s Advocacy Network (CAN), formerly known as the Rapides Children’s Advocacy Center. This agency incorporates a program using court-appointed special advocates (or CASAs) to help move children out of foster care. It also operates a specialized interview program for children who have been abused or neglected. We hope to surround at-risk children and youth with community supports, incorporating them into neighborhood efforts and increasing their sense of hope and possibility.