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Grant to help keep at-risk kids in school

February 5, 2019

An effort to keep at-risk students in school and out of the criminal justice system recently received about $220,000 from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Allen Superior Court announced Monday.

With the funding, the Allen County Juvenile Center’s Check and Connect program should eventually serve about 225 students, up from 130 students, the court said.

Launched in 2014, Check and Connect pairs students at risk of dropping out of school with trained mentors who advocate for and challenge students to prioritize education. Students are referred to the program when they show signs of disengaging from school, such as poor attendance, behavioral issues and low grades, the court said.

At $217,333, the grant is the largest the program has received, said Judge Andrea R. Trevino, supervising judge of the juvenile center.

“This tells us something important: That the work Check and Connect accomplishes is important and impactful on the students we serve,” Trevino said in a statement. “It also gives us the encouragement our team needs to keep building on what Check and Connect has already accomplished.”

The grant will help pay for existing mentors and new mentors to place in additional schools, the court said. Mentors currently serve students in Fort Wayne Community and East Allen County schools.

Mentors : who monitor absences, tardies, behavioral referrals and grades : regularly meet with students with the goal of meeting 100 times during the academic year, the court said.

The relationship lasts at least two years. Mentors serve as liaisons between home and school and provide help with problem solving and skill building.

Because schools must file truancy affidavits against chronically absent students, Check and Connect also keeps students out of the criminal justice system by reducing truancies, the court said. The program aims to reduce truancies by at least 10 percent in the schools it serves.

Jill Carboni, the juvenile center’s education director, is among the staff members who wrote the grant request under Trevino’s supervision.

“There has never been a better time for Check and Connect,” Carboni said in a statement. “The issues facing kids right now are difficult to understand unless you’ve faced them. There are children in our community every day facing lack of food, lack of a parental presence at home : even homelessness. They deserve our help, and that’s what Check and Connect is here to do.”

asloboda@jg.net

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