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Promoting youth resilience and well-being in vulnerable rural populations requires a coordinated approach that builds connections between schools, families, community resources, and school mental health clinicians. Emphasizing a community psychology and ecological systems approach, this chapter describes how one school–community–university partnership improved school mental health (SMH) programming and reduced the impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in eight rural South Carolina elementary schools. This approach included delivering a continuum of evidence-based SMH services, helping families navigate community resources to address concrete needs that would otherwise function as barriers to student well-being and achievement, building community-level ACE awareness and capacity for resiliency promotion, and conducting a thorough mixed-methods evaluation to highlight program achievements and areas for improvement. Information on the nature and outcomes of the project and strategies for conducting rich evaluations for similar regional programs are presented. Finally, a new model – the Empower Action Model – for organizations interested in developing a functional, coordinated plan of action for improving equity, health, and well-being in their communities is introduced.
This concluding chapter ties together key themes presented throughout this volume, the first book on social justice for children and youth that takes an international perspective. The primary conclusion for this work is that there are significant problems with social injustice for children and youth all around the world, in less-developed and developed nations. This is a foundational human rights issue that should be prioritized in all communities; yet in reality progress has been very limited. While there is some emerging literature, important guiding policy documents, and a number of networks trying to deepen this work, there is a relative dearth of coordinated efforts taking this challenge head on, to assure that policies and practices build a linked agenda that promotes wellness for children and youth, while assuring social justice for them.
According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the goal of a social justice approach for children is to ensure that children “are better served and protected by justice systems, including the security and social welfare sectors.” Despite this worthy goal, the UN documents how children are rarely viewed as stakeholders in justice rules of law; child justice issues are often dealt with separate from larger justice and security issues; and when justice issues for children are addressed, it is often through a siloed, rather than a comprehensive approach. This volume actively challenges the current youth social justice paradigm through terminology and new approaches that place children and young people front and center in the social justice conversation. Through international consideration, children and young people worldwide are incorporated into the social justice conversation.
Approaches that bring families and educators together as partners can promote positive outcomes for children, families, and schools. Family-school partnerships may be most effective when aligned and integrated within existing school frameworks, such as multitiered systems of support, including positive behavioral interventions and supports. National and international policy supports embedding a social justice paradigm in services for children and families to improve equity and reduce disproportionate practices. Embedding a social justice paradigm in family-school partnership systems and practices promotes cultural responsiveness and equitable systems. The purpose of the chapter is to describe embedded social justice approaches within family-school partnership interventions as aligned and integrated within positive behavioral interventions and supports. Systems and practices at Tiers 1, 2, and 3 are described, with corresponding practical guidelines. Cultural responsiveness, from a social justice paradigm, is included as a core feature of each approach reviewed. International examples of tiered family-school partnership approaches are included to illustrate key points.
This introductory chapter presents the goal of social justice for children and young people to ensure that children are served and protected within their countries and communities. Despite this important goal, children and young people are often overlooked as critical social justice stakeholders with adults and other country experiences prioritized instead. When social justice issues among young people are addressed, it is often through specific interventions rather than taking a comprehensive approach to social justice for children on a macro level. The chapter discusses the importance of children and young people’s involvement as critical stakeholders in systemic social justice reform. Prior models of social justice are critiqued and a call for a contemporary, global approach to social justice for children and young people is warranted. The chapter introduces the parameters of the volume that follows and how it takes an international approach that includes the presentation of case studies from low- and lower-middle-income countries, as well as upper-middle- and high-income countries as per the World Bank’s 2018–2019 new country classifications.