FD schools renew agreement with YSC

The Fort Dodge Community School District has renewed its agreement with Youth Shelter Care.

YSC provides counseling services through the programs CARES (Collaborative Approach Remedial Education Service) and PRIDE (Positively and Responsibly Integrating Daily Empowerment).

These services are provided to students from preschool through high school, Lis Ristau, director of special needs for the Fort Dodge Community School DIstrict, said Monday at the regular meeting of the school board.

CARES serves children with special educational needs in kindergarten through sixth grade. For grades seven through 12, PRIDE serves boys and GRLS (Girls Remedial Learning Service) serves girls.

“We are talking about students with significant mental health issues, from bipolar disorders, oppositional defiance. They just truly have to have a segregated site because they can’t make it in a large setting,” she said. “The focus there is academics, as well as the social and emotional.”

The students in these programs learn “replacement behaviors.”

“Our goal is to get them back into the public school setting as quickly as possible,” Ristau said.

The programs have expanded since their inception.

“We have grown now to two teachers who served last year 25 students,” Ristau said. “Our numbers have grown drastically.”

All three programs bring in students from other districts.

“The wonderful thing about Fort Dodge is we often tuition in other students from surrounding communities that don’t have the large number of services and programs that we’re able to offer,” Ristau said. “Last year, we tuitioned in 39 students in various programs throughout the year.”

She added, “I would like to tuition in more, but that fills us to capacity and we’re not able to bring in any other students.”

In addition to mental health therapy, YSC will also provide a Life Skills program for the school district, said Jim Seward, YSC executive director.

“We want to be sensitive to the needs of the kids, and a lot of their behaviors affect their educational experiences, so we want to term it life skills going into this year, because we’re doing more of that transitioning, working on communication skills, interpersonal skills, executive function skills,” he said. “We want to allow them to benefit in the classroom so they can get back into the mainstream.”

According to Seward, the partnership with the school district has been beneficial for students.

“The kids’ success is based on the teachers upstairs, in CARES and PRIDE,” he said, “and we want to support the teachers, be advocates of the school district, so the kids can find success in their own educational endeavors.”