Cathedral Home for Children is made up of several different parts; from providing community based prevention services, residential treatment, and education to transition and after care programs. Every part is a vital component to the community as a whole. During this blog post, we will be exploring a unique service called the A.C.E.S. Program, also known as the Albany County Expelled and Suspended Program and a component of our Community Prevention Programs. The A.C.E.S. Program helps to promote success both within the A.C.E.S. Program and within the mainstream school environment. Participation in the A.C.E.S. Program is voluntary and is an option for students to stay caught up on school work and to continue to receive the credits they need to graduate. The student attends school at the Laramie Youth Crisis Center (LYCC) during the expulsion or suspension under the direction of a certified teacher.
Throughout the years there have been studies conducted on the A.C.E.S. Program and what it does for the community and the kids. The studies that have been conducted have really shined light on to the A.C.E.S. Program and the impact it has on the graduation rates in Albany County. Students that participate in A.C.E.S. have an increase in GPA and an increase in attendance. The likelihood of the child dropping out at the age of 16 decreases significantly for those that have utilized the support program. This school year alone, the A.C.E.S. Program has helped 13 students get back on the right track after being suspended or expelled from school. As the school year progresses, the A.C.E.S. Program will continue to provide support to youth and their families when issues arise within the school environment. The bright side to that is A.C.E.S. will be there to help the child get back on track.
Through the A.C.E.S. Program, youth not only gain tools to become successful in the school environment, but they also learn positive communication skills to promote positive relationship building in society. The A.C.E.S. Program emphasizes the importance of working together, supporting one another, and creating an environment where all feel welcome and accepted. In the classroom, the expectation is that there is no judgement of others and that everyone respects one another and with this atmosphere, the want to be there and learn is implemented. Overall, the A.C.E.S. Program creates an environment where students can have one on one time with a teacher and be able to build positive social skills.
A.C.E.S. would not be possible without the hard work of the teacher, Dwayne Tillman. Dwayne has been working for Cathedral Home for Children for 16 years. As a certified teacher in Albany County, Dwayne really focuses on finding an interest that the child has and taking that interest and relating it back to their school work. For instance, taking something that the youth enjoys and finding a way to create math problems relating to it. Dwayne really focuses on getting to know the kids and helping the students understand what they are learning about. Even though this job isn’t easy, Dwayne loves it and he says that his favorite part of the entire job is watching the light-bulb go off for a child. The child feels so accomplished when they figure out what they didn’t understand and all of sudden it makes sense.
During the summer, Cathedral Home facilitates the Summer A.C.E.S. Program which has a different focus than that of the academic program. The focus of the Summer A.C.E.S. Program is to provide youth in our community, who are at risk of participating in negative behaviors, with a structured environment full of opportunities for pro-social activities. It has the structure that is needed, creates opportunities for youth to build positive relationships with members of the community and opens them up to numerous resources to use when they are not participating in the program. Activities include volunteering, going to the movies, visiting the local recreation center, hiking and crafts. The best part of the program is that the majority of transportation is done on a bicycle.
The A.C.E.S. Program is just one of the numerous services offered at Cathedral Home for Children. Through this program, Cathedral Home for Children is able to reach out to the community and provide prevention based resources to youth and families.
Stay tuned for our next blog coming in the next few weeks! Like always remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the most up-to-date information about our organization.