Community Initiative for Student Success (CISS)
The Community Initiative for Student Success (CISS) project is a community-based program addressing the recurring problems of suspensions of elementary students at the Toronto District School Board. The project proposes the establishment of a centre, within the community, where suspended students could receive support in a nurturing and caring environment.
Existing programs for suspended students are designed almost exclusively for grades seven to twelve. The focus of this proposed program, however, is to assist elementary students (junior kindergarten to grade six), their families, and the affected schools in dealing with the complex issues/causes of suspensions.
Working closely in partnership with Community Services and other stakeholders at the TDSB, The Muslim Educational Network, Training and Outreach Service (MENTORS) and many other community agencies and organizations are working to initiate and support this project.
This pilot project will initially begin in the East Scarborough area, with the possibility of expansion into other quadrants of TDSB.
The project is aimed at assisting parents and children in junior kindergarten to grade 6 who have been suspended between 1-3 times. Many of these students have come from disadvantaged communities and in some cases; have only one working parent who cannot afford to remain at home to supervise a suspended child. For these parents, even a one-day suspension could often pose grave hardship and difficulties.
The community organizations that are supporting this project believe that there are constructive ways the community as a whole can assist the Board in dealing with issues of suspensions. Through a pro-active approach, students who are suspended or are in danger of being suspended could be referred to the CISS program either by a parent or a school principal. The center will in turn draw from the expertise of organizations that are working with children and families, providing appropriate services at the center as and when they are required. For example, there would be cultural counselors at the centre from the students' communities to address the root causes of a particular suspension
The initial in-take capacity of the CISS Centre is targeted to be between 20-25 students at a given time.
Current Project Status
Since the inception of this project, great effort has been made to bring on board all key agencies that work with children and families in the Scarborough Area. These agencies have responded positively and have sent representatives to two organizing meetings in December 2002 and in January 2003. Ongoing discussions are also taking place within the TDSB among stakeholders e.g. school superintendents, trustees, Community Services, Safe Schools, parents, and School Services staff.
A site for this project has been identified at the Morningside Mall, located at Morningside and Lawrence. The location is easily accessible by TTC and it is also the site for the Storefront, which hosts many of community agencies that are supporting this project.
The Steering Committee
A Steering Community consisting of community organizations and TDSB staff will be established, with a mandate to develop a project document and proposals for funding and other policies and procedures governing the project. It is also anticipated that this group will provide ongoing guidance and directions to the day-to-day operation of the center as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of its services.
The project is currently researching different funding sources. Proposals will be sent to The Maytree Foundation, HRDC, Children's Aid Society, The United Way, Ontario Ministry of Education, Laidlaw, CLARICA, Friends of Community Schools and others.
Reference Group Members to date (in alphabetical order)
- AISLING Discoveries Child & Family Centre
- Canada Tamil Parents Association
- The Muslim Educational Network, Training and Outreach Service (MENTORS)
- O.I.S.E. Teacher Education Program, U of T
- Ontario Parents of Black Children
- Organization for the Reclamation of Our Children
- Scarborough Boys and Girls Club
- TDSB Departments: Community Services, Safe Schools, Guidance
- Toronto Chinese Parents Federation
- Tropicana Community Services
|For more information contact:
Phone: (416) 269-8562
Fax: (416) 269-1996