School district looks at programs that protect and help children at risk


By Lloyd Call




Ellen Aste, new early education liaison for both the North and South Sanpete school districts, will be responsible for helping children find adequate preschool services.

MANTI—Mark Olson will be the new president of the South Sanpete School Board next year, replacing Kim Pickett, with Grant Hansen acting as vice-president.

At their monthly board meeting Wednesday, Nov. 12, the board got a detailed report on the Children’s Justice Center (CJC) from director Diane Keeler, who also requested the school district appoint a school district representative to serve on the CJC board of directors.

Keeler explained the Justice Center’s role in advocating for children who suffer from abuse. “One problem in the past is that a child who has been abused has to go through a traumatic series of interviews with many different agencies,” she said.

Now, regardless of whether the Division of Family Services, law enforcement, or any other agency launches an investigation, the child only has one interview with a skilled interviewer at the Justice Center.

The goal is to change the procedure an abused child goes through during the investigation process.

The Children’s Justice Center literature says, “The Children’s Justice Center(CJC) is a homelike facility, which serves children and families who are experiencing the crisis and chaos that comes with the disclosure of significant physical or sexual abuse of a child.
“The center is designed to help children feel safe and comfortable so that they may begin to deal with the difficult and often frightening issues that surround abuse. The focus and function of the CJC is to reduce the trauma of the child abuse investigation and help the child feel safe to reveal the truth.”

Another organization also addressed the board. Kyle Parry, who represents the “Community That Cares” program said the focus of this program is to target students who are struggling with attendance and are at risk. A team of volunteers conducts home visits and one-on-one counseling with the students.

“We are working with as many as 50 students per school,” Parry said. He also asked for a representative from the school district to serve on that organization’s board of directors.

The board also reviewed results from a previous board work meeting on suicide prevention strategies and confirmed that the best of those resources would be implemented district-wide.

The board also saw the SAGE results from the Ephraim Middle School. The results were slow coming in from the state, but show steady improvement over the years. The middle school’s scores are above state averages (see accompanying chart).

Ellen Aste has been named the new early education liaison for both North and South Sanpete Sanpete School Districts. This is a new position funded for one year by a grant received under the guidance of the Sanpete County Inter-Generational Poverty Committee. The goal is to provide preschool services for low income children in Sanpete County.

Aste will be responsible for developing an action plan with districts and families to help children find and connect with adequate preschool services and be prepared for kindergarten.

Finally, the district noted that two Sanpete schools were named as Fall Sports Academic Champions. The honors went to Gunnison Valley High School in football and boys’ golf, and to Manti High School in girls’ tennis.