Family-school-community partnerships that serve troubled students through collaborative school-community social services are based on the concept of the "school as a community center." The intent is to meet the needs of families and children by combining the bureaucratic formalities of social services into an efficient, comÂ¬prehensive, and integrated system designed to handle the many problems related to teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, juvenile crime, adolescent suicide, and the AIDS epidemic.
Although schools participate as one of the many entities in a social service center, organizing a program model to fit and remedy the unique needs of children involves planning. Because urban, suburÂ¬ban, and rural communities differ, there are no simple explanations or blueprints to organize a center, obtain funding, or seek additional resources.
School districts where centers are mandated (e.g., New Jersey, Iowa, Kentucky) may differ from those with voluntary programs. Whether providing involuntary or voluntary programs, schools conÂ¬tinue to employ the professionals needed for crisis intervention, counseling, and psychological services. These services generally inÂ¬clude therapeutic activities for children who have been injured by violence or witnessed an unusual violent event. For example, the social service staff members may have a role in removing children from an unsafe home environment or visiting the home to keep them from being victims of violence.
When children witness violence, they suffer from anger, fear, hopelessness, confusion, or irrational thinking. Sad to say, "schools have become the emergency room of emotions, devoted not only to developing minds but also to repairing hearts". Emergency room duty is not a teaching function but it is a humanitarian function. The inclusion of such duties and responsibilities in daily school life is now viewed as the therapeutic curriculum.
Such a curriculum does exist in elementary schools with colÂ¬laborative school-community social services. One case where health, welfare, governmental, and community agencies have joined the private and business sectors in providing social services at the school site is the Fourth Street Elementary School in Athens, GA (Gantt, 1992). This award-winning school-community program does more than educate children; it offers family counseling services and education activities for parents.
School-based social services establish links among agencies that affect students and their parents, handle the coordination and netÂ¬working for total services to families, plan and implement long-term intervention strategies, and use a proactive approach to serve the educaÂ¬tional and social needs of children. State and community agencies in the school building offer support for the tutoring, counseling, child care, health, family activities, and parent education services. These collaborative services have a positive influence on students, families, and the community.