The National League of Cities Re-engagement Network held its fifth annual convening in Iowa in March 2016. Attendees representing state and local governments, school districts, and community organizations discussed dropout prevention and reengagement strategies, policies and programs.
Some of the “big ideas” presented included:
- Strengthen enrollment into alternative schools by training staff on cultural competencies, providing one-one-one counseling and referrals and sharing data between community partners to identify needed services;
- Identify a variety of in-school and community-based alternative programs that prevent, intervene and reengage at-risk youth (example: Omaha Multiple Pathways);
- Engage youth and parents in the development of programs that assist young people transition to work and school from the juvenile justice system;
- Invest in PD training that helps staff develop effective relationship-building skills with at-risk youth;
- Establish a peer leader model in youth programming;
- Co-located staff from community organizations with WIOA service centers for out-of-school youth;
- Establish community-wide accountability measures that track most desirable outcomes (for instance, grad rates and wages earned may be higher priority than numbers of GED’s and job placements);
- Appropriately address the mental health needs of at-risk youth, including anxiety, trauma, and attachment using motivational interviewing, trauma-informed care and effective relationship building;
- Identify the complex and diverse needs of youth who have disabilities, are LGBT, are non-English speakers or are in foster care and develop individualized plans for addressing these needs;
- Establish strong partnerships between employers, community colleges, schools, nonprofits, public agencies and others (ex: Alignment Nashville);
- Identify workforce skills gaps and develop mid-skill career pathways, supported by innovative post-secondary funding sources, to reengage opportunity youth, particularly in STEM fields;
- Develop dual-enrollment programs (high school + college) and the wrap around supports needed for students to complete them;
- Explore state-wide funding and policy strategies, such as in Washington and Colorado;
- Explore competency or proficiency-based options for credit recovery.
To learn more about the 2016 Reengagement Plus! or to join the National League of Cities Reengagement Network, contact Zachia Nazarzai.