JPA's Work in the Schools

JPA’s approach involves harnessing children’s natural drive to learn, to succeed and to engage in positive relationships, while working to transform psychological barriers that impede progress. In JPA’s approach developed over the past decade of working in schools in some of Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods, positive and responsive relationships play a fundamental role in creating wellness and success. We find that children are ultimately much more motivated to learn by positive relationships than by, for example, material rewards.

9th Gear

The transition to high school is considered one of the leakiest junctures in the educational pipeline. Students who "land" well in 9th grade and adjust to high school are 4x more likely to earn their high school diplomas - a prerequisite to any post secondary education. But many of the young teens served by JPA suffer from trauma as a result of neighborhood or even home violence, abuse and neglect. These young people have hopes and dreams and want to succeed - and with a little extra support, they can! 9th Gear is a unique mentoring program:

1. The program is designed especially for 8th grade boys and girls who may suffer from trauma and find the transition to high school challenging

2. The program is based on clinical best practices and research and backed by our experience of working in schools for more than a decade

3. The program is supported by licensed clinical social workers so that both mentors and students have access to support

9th Gear helps students prepare for the transition from 8th grade to high school. This transition can be exciting and fun, but it often comes with significant social and emotional challenges. The mentees in this program will be facing even more obstacles such as poverty, less support, limited access to resources, and community violence. Our hope is to provide our mentees with a unique form of support and guidance to help them learn ways to navigate and overcome these challenges, as well as increase their self-esteem so they can be successful high school students.

The Program

The program will run for 8 weeks during July and August. • Mentors will be paired with at least 1 or 2 other young professionals to be role models and leaders for a group of 4-5 mentees. • We will meet once a week to participate in JPA-run workshops that aim to support mentees’ social-emotional growth, planning skills and healthy relationships with peers and adults. • We will also have 2-3 weekend events where mentors can have some fun with mentees and their families, including a kick-off and closing ceremony. Events may include baseball games, zoo or museum trips, cookouts, etc. • Mentor-mentee cohorts will also be expected to engage in at least 1 activity together during the 2-month program beyond JPA planned workshops and events.

SUPPORT FOR YOU: JPA clinicians will provide extensive training on how to be an effective mentor, as well as provide weekly supervision and support throughout the program. We understand this is a demanding role as well as a complex population to work with. We will be with you every step of the way!

**Mentor spots are limited. Background checks and interviews required.**

For more information, please contact Erin Vanden Brook at evbrook@jpachicago.org or 312-818-8034 or Katie Gleason at kgleason@jpachicago.org or 312.818.8022


In addition to offering individual professional development workshops and consultation sessions to teachers, JPA has also developed a systematic, integrated training and consultation program to help educators craft and refine school policies and practices (such as discipline) to be more responsive to children with difficult behaviors – especially those that stem from social-emotional challenges. This program, Connect, is adaptable to each school’s environment and has been used across many settings, including with school deans in a charter school and supporting professional learning communities in a public elementary school.

For more information, please contact mlansing@jpachicago.org


Building Bridges to North Lawndale (BBNL) Program
The overall goals for the award winning BBNL program are to serve significant numbers of traumatized children (over 90% low income and 91% African American) through participating Chicago elementary schools who would not otherwise have access to quality mental health services designed to improve the mental health and behavioral functioning of children at school. Partnering with educators from six participating schools, highly skilled, licensed, master’s level JPA therapists and master's level social work interns supervised by JPA therapists, the primary aim of the BBNL program is to respond to emotional and behavioral problems of children that are caused by trauma and interfere with learning. This is achieved through three core services for children – individual counseling, small group counseling and classroom groups – along with providing extensive support for parents and teachers. Children served have experienced considerable trauma, loss and deprivation in their lives. A startling 61% of children seen through BBNL counseling in the 2013-2014 school year have had a relative incarcerated and 45% have had a relative or close friend killed or harmed by violence.

Connect to Kindergarten (C2K)

At the behest of educators, JPA began C2K three years ago to address teacher concerns that children entering school for the first time were not prepared to handle the social and emotional demands of the classroom. Since then, research has been published suggesting that almost half of all Kindergarten teachers nationwide report that the majority of their students arrive unprepared. Teachers want to include social emotional supports in their classrooms but often do not know how. Social emotional challenges often negatively affect students’ self-confidence, behavior, ability to learn, and relationships with their peers and teachers.

These requests are bolstered by extensive research indicating that a positive teacher-child relationship experienced in Kindergarten supports a child’s future academic and social success through 8th grade. The overall goal of Connect2Kindergarten is to create a cadre of teachers whose skills at building relationships with their students are a game changer for children in underserved communities and those suffering from trauma, regardless of where they attend school.

In this program, JPA provides an integrated set of services for children, teachers, and parents including:

- Teacher consultation that helps teachers address children’s social-emotional needs.

-Classroom group activities that help children develop needed social and emotional abilities.

-Parent workshops that help parents support their child’s social-emotional development and build a constructive working relationship with the teacher.

For more information please contact kgleason@jpachicago.org


Juvenile Protective Association
1707 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614

Tel: 312.440.1203
Fax: 312.698.6931