Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grant projects progressing

January 22, 2009

As project director of Eudora USD 491’s Safe Schools Healthy Students grant, Christina Mann feels like she has just received a new toy she must assemble before using it.

Despite her enthusiasm, Mann knows it is imperative that she exercise patience and prudence while assembling the infrastructure of the federally funded $3 million program.

“I definitely feel like I’m seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Mann said. “I, like anyone else, am excited to see the services come on line but know that setting this groundwork is important.”

With all human processes, there are going to be unexpected snags that come up and you need to have some groundwork as to how you’re going to deal with those. I have great respect for that process as well.”

Mann began the process in late September when she joined the district after working for nine years in different capacities at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.

And during a time when state and federal governments are reticent to allocate new funding for education, Mann is pleased she will not need to worry about funding from year to year.

“In the midst of this economic downturn, we are in a very fortunate position to have this funding and these services that are coming through at just the right time,” she said.

Mann also pleased the grant will allow the district to offer free services in a time when people will be facing financial difficulties.

The grant will provide the district with $745,816 each year during the next four years. Mann said several pieces have come together during the last three or so months.

A training Web site — www.linktohealthyminds.org — and DVD that will educate staff on when to make referrals to mental health professionals has been completed. The program received video conferencing equipment so that grant partners can more easily meet, and an program assistant as well as a program evaluator have been hired.

One of the main elements that was discussed during the grant proposal stage was an after-school program. Mann said such a program would exist. But before it can begin, she and the core grant partners must submit proposals stating implementation and collaboration goals.

The program proposals are one of many tasks to be completed before the program begins next fall. When the process has slowed, Mann reminds herself of the void that will be filled in Eudora as a result of the work she and the incoming staff will do.

“That’s what drives me,” Mann said. “Having been a clinical social worker and working with kids kind of gave me an appreciation for their needs and to be able to work at a systems level and bring in those programs is very satisfying.”

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