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Alternative Suspension

1) Category:
Specific program

2) Issues Behind the Program:


For many years now, the issue of dropping out in Qubec has raised great concerns and caused widespread soul-searching. Every year on the Island of Montral, more than 4,000 young people quit school without graduating. Once a side-bar, dropping out is now a headline social issue. Dropping out is a costly problem for society and no efforts must be spared to eradicate it. The connection between suspension and dropping out has been proven time and again. Suspension is often a sign of problems that could lead to dropping out.

3) Objectives:
Help students who have been suspended to use their time constructively and benefit from the experience. Empower them to identify what is important to them and what motivates them in school. Help them with their schoolwork so that they are not behind when they return to school. Empower them to gain new knowledge and acquire aptitudes and personal and social skills through workshops tailored to their lives and applicable in school. Enable them to develop self-esteem and self-sufficiency. Make it possible for them to job shadow or have vocational education internships.

4) Environment:
Community (CSSSs, youth centers, Carrefours Jeunesse Emploi, etc.) Secondary schools

5) Target Group:
Secondary-level students having recurrent or sporadic trouble socially and in school. (These students frequently come from difficult socio-economic environments and different cultural communities, populations that are often weakened by the school dropout phenomenon.)

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/.

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6) Key Words:
Alternative Suspension, curaction, school-family-community partnership, specific program, dropping out, suspension, perseverance, motivation, self-esteem, selfsufficiency, social skills, personal development

7) Description:
Alternative Suspension (Qubec YMCAs) is a resource at the disposal of secondary schools, offering them support for students who, for different reasons, are temporarily suspended from the school they attend. More specifically, the program makes it possible for suspended students to be supervised at a point of service. The goal of the program is to decrease the number of repeated suspensions by offering young people the opportunity to transform the time they spend on suspension into a positive experience favoring self-development and self-reliance. The program has two components that dovetail and are aimed at the same outcome, namely, improved learning and social conditions for young people so that their chances of going back to school successfully and joining the mainstream of society are increased, and a decrease in the number of risk factors leading to dropping out. o o The first component targets participants acquisition and enhancement of personal and social skills and the promotion of self-respect and respect for others. The second component enables the young people to change how they feel about school and to make the time spent away from school an overall success.

8) Steps:
I. Contact between the school and the point of service: When the decision is made to send the student to the program, the school phones the program worker to make sure that intake is possible. Then the school and the worker discuss the situation, including the conditions of suspension and, if required, certain details concerning the student`s profile. Planning the suspension: The next step consists of faxing the Le ncessaire form, which the school completes and sends to the point of service before arrival of the student so that the worker can plan workshops tailored to the student`s needs. By having an accurate profile of the student, of what drives him and of where the challenges lie, and by knowing what action the school has taken, the worker does not needlessly repeat what was already done and is able to connect with the young person quickly. Intake (individualized and non-judgmental approach): The student may be escorted by one parent or both parents or by the teacher. They are welcomed warmly by the program worker, who introduces himself, explains his role, how the program works, and the rules that apply, and then double-checks certain information with the student (for example, how he views the suspension, how he feels about being put in Alternative Suspension, what he knows and thinks about the reasons for the suspension, what he feels he can learn from Alternative Suspension, etc.). Point of service: Being in a setting that is not academic or institutional, the young person quickly grows to trust the program worker in most cases. The student remains in this environment for at least three days to do schoolwork and participate in workshops and activities. Preparing to return to school: On the last day at the point of service, the young person and the worker meet to plan for the young persons return to school by filling out the evaluation document. A positive recap of the suspension and the intervention is done, followed by time for the student to think about what returning to class means. The

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This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/.

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worker helps the student with this process of reflection and suggests courses of action, but the student is the driving force. VI. Return to school: Before the student returns to school, a meeting takes place between the student, his parents, the school principal or vice-principal, and, at times, the remedial teacher and homeroom teacher. This gives the student the opportunity to express what the suspension has taught him about his behavior and how his attitude towards the school and its rules has changed. Here, the program worker acts mainly as a mediator between the school and the principal by smoothing the way for the student to report on the suspension and to talk about the process of reflection that occurred at Alternative Suspension. The presence of the parents at this meeting is crucial so that they can understand the situation and the solutions proposed and, ideally, so that they can play an active role in their child`s education. Follow-up: The program worker sets up a meeting with the student approximately one month after he returns to school. The purpose is to talk about the situation and to measure how much progress there has been in terms of the commitments made at the return-to-school meeting. Before the meeting, the worker contacts the parents and the school principal to find out about the student`s post-return behavior. This follow-up meeting strengthens the intervention because the student knows that the worker will be checking in on him, cares about him, will oversee his commitments, and that his parents are partners in the process.

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9) Activities/Actions:
Schoolwork: Schoolwork has an important place in the program because students who fall behind academically risk multiple failures. The program workers are therefore trained to help students with all secondary curriculum subjects and ensure academic continuity during the period of suspension. The group size (maximum six) and individualized assistance enable the students to continue their schooling and, in some cases, to brush up on certain subjects. Group workshops: These workshops, generally held in the afternoon, provide the suspended students with a forum for expressing their opinions on diverse topics and situations, for analyzing their reactions, and for finding courses of action. The program also fosters the positive influence of peers. The workshops are organized around various themes but are all designed to meet the needs of the students and are customized to their profiles. The primary objective is to get the students thinking. Some of the main themes are self-esteem, anger management, responsibility, conflict resolution, relationship to authority, and the student`s place in school. Other activities may include, as needed, visits to vocational training centers or social economy companies, or career or guidance counselling.

10) Resources Required:


Human resources: o o Program workers A member of the school staff (Anyone involved in the student`s file, e.g. viceprincipal, psychoeducator, social worker, remedial teacher, may recommend the student for the program.) For the first year of operation, costs are funded largely by the sponsor organization or another external source of funding (foundation, municipality, etc.), but the idea is that, in the long term, schools and school boards will almost fully cover program

Financial resources: o

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/.

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costs. (Starting up a new point of service requires sustainable funding. The sponsor could, for example, approach other organizations for support, material or other forms of backing.)

11) Roles of the Participants:


Program worker: o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o ensures communication between the school and the parents; ensures that there are valid grounds for the suspension and can suggest how long the intervention should last; is entrusted with the intervention process (planning, intake, support, preparing for returning to school, follow-up); informs the student about community resources based on his profile and fields of interest (youth centers, CSSSs, substance-abuse organizations, etc.); as needed, organizes visits to give the student an overview of career possibilities; does the required paperwork for the students file. makes the decision to suspend the student and to refer him to the program; makes sure that the point of service can receive the student; gives the program worker any information needed to put together the student`s file and to conduct the intervention; contacts the parents to inform them that the program is available for the child; makes sure that the student has all the material needed for him to keep up with his schoolwork so that he will not lag behind when he returns to school; can forward any forgotten material to the point of service; gives the student a brochure to give to his parents explaining the program. get information about the program; talk with the program worker regularly; work with the program worker to come to an agreement with the school; do all they can to be involved in their child`s success in school; attend the return-to-school meeting at the end of the intervention period at the point of service. supports the organizations wishing to implement the program by providing the following services: Forms partnerships: Approaches different partners and establishes the initial structure. Establishes the structure: Local coordination training and access to start-up tools. Training of program workers: Theoretical and practical training with practicums at existing points of service. Recurrent annual support: Access to program reference tools and professional development meetings.

School principal:

Parents:

Program coordinating team: o

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/.

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12. Scientific Basis or Validity:


In Qubec, Royer, Bitaudeau and Verville (1996) postulated that suspension should be educational and preventive rather than punitive. Successful intervention occurs when students are helped to develop their academic abilities and social skills. Alternative Suspension is based on this approach. Alternative Suspension was the subject of a three-year formal assessment (2002 to 2005). The results exceeded expectations, and the assessment process showed that the methods and principles used in the program effectively contributed to reducing risk factors associated with dropping out of school. In addition, the program model developed was validated as being flexible and rigorous, and a structure that allowed the program to be implemented successfully in other environments, while being adaptable to local realities. Here is an overview of these results (for further details, see the Evaluation Summary): o The program achieved observable changes in a large majority of the students referred. We found that the school professionals and parents noticed changes in attitudes and behavior in the short term for 85% of the students referred to the program and changes in the medium term for half of the students referred. Alternative Suspension is a good match with the needs of the school environment, as is demonstrated by the fact that in all the participating schools it holds a unique and an important place among the various options available. The number of schools that apply to participate in the program and the demand for program services are testimony to the fact that the program meets what is considered very much an important need among secondary school professionals. The structure of the assistance the program provides and the profile and efforts of its youth workers are both positive points reported by school professionals, who are very satisfied with the program in its entirely.

13) Program Material:


Website: www.alternativesuspension.ca A series of documents for drafting a fairly detailed portrait of the overall initial situation, for the intervention itself and for follow-up.

14) Additional Information:


Since its local creation in 1999, Alternative Suspension has posted continuous growth. By the end of the 2009-2010 school year, 31 secondary schools will have been serviced through the program`s six points of service on the Island of Montral. Elsewhere in Qubec, the numbers are over 30 schools and 8 points of service. The information contained in this factsheet was taken, in whole or in part, from: o o o www.alternativesuspension.ca ; Guide for introducing the program; Partnership implementation document.

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/.

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15) Contacts:
George Kalimeris, National Director Alternative Suspension Les YMCA du Qubec 5550, avenue du Parc Montral (Qubec) H2V 4H1 Tel.: 514 271-3437, extension 4290 Email: george.kalimeris@ymcaquebec.org tienne Pag, Director, Province of Qubec Alternative Suspension Les YMCA du Qubec Tel.: 514 271-3437, extension 4290 Email: etienne.page@ymcaquebec.org

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/.

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