Tight school budgets

WHERE: Miami-Dade County Public School District
WHAT: Emphasizes collaborative programs that support student well-being as key to achievement
HOW: Through a noteworthy, award-winning approach to youth suicide prevention, one that encourages help-seeking behaviors and emphasizes self-awareness, coping skills, stress management, problem solving and more

The budget crunch facing Florida schools challenges administrators to implement programs that deliver real results—while controlling costs. Perhaps nowhere in Florida is this more daunting than in the diverse 43,000-pupil Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS).

Yet administrators within the Miami-Dade district attribute their system’s nationally lauded turnaround in student achievement to connected schools that recognize student well-being as central to academic performance.

Among district programs is a collaborative, award-winning approach to youth suicide prevention, one that emphasizes recognizing risk and warning signs, help-seeking, self-awareness, conflict resolution, anger management, problem solving, relationship building, coping skills, stress management and more.

Results of the Miami-Dade Youth Suicide Prevention and Intervention Program, or YSPIP, include a 75 percent reduction in the suicide rate among 15-19-year-old students since program inception in 1989.

Moreover, the suicide rate has continued to decline in recent years, falling well below levels of same-age students in Florida and across the United States. The positive effects on academic achievement of enhancing student emotional well-being are undeniable, say M-DCPS administrators. So too are the benefits of community collaborations in addressing at-risk youths.

“We know Florida schools cannot go it alone in enhancing student emotional wellness, and strong community linkages are vital,” says Erin MacInnes, Director of the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention. “That’s why we offer a host of resources to assist schools in forging these linkages to help students reach their full potential.”

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