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Link for Schools: A system to prevent violence and its adverse impacts

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $3,675,128)

Problem Statement: Contemporary approaches to violence prevention require systems that address a primary and secondary prevention. Link for schools is system that incorporates principles of Trauma Informed Care and Psychological First Aid (PFA) to intervene on mental and behavioral precursors of violence and to mitigate its impacts among exposed youth. Staff, students and parents in the Link schools will be trained in Trauma Informed Care. Another cadre of staff (Link Specialists who are nurses, counselors, student-family advocates, and mental health specialists) will be trained in PFA. At-risk youth will receive PFA and may be referred for additional community resources or advanced care. The objectives of this project are to evaluate the effectiveness of Link in reducing school violence and improving school outcomes, and to assess Link’s cost effectiveness.

Subjects: This study will be set in 12 schools with an enrollment of almost 5000 students from the Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD), the second largest district in Iowa. About 27% of the CRCSD student population is minority. Half are eligible for free/ reduced meals, and 15% live in poverty.

Research Methods: An intervention trial will be implemented with three clusters (one middle and its three feeder elementary schools compose a cluster) to serve as either intervention or control sites. At-risk youth will be identified through either the district’s existing behavioral management system which youth for violence risk indicators (e.g., referrals, absenteeism, falling grades, or stress symptoms). At intervention schools, at-risk children will be randomized into an immediate intervention or a waitlist control group. The immediate intervention group will receive one-on-one Psychological First Aid (PFA) in the fall semester, while the waitlist control group will receive PFA in spring semester.

Partnerships: This project involves a strong, ongoing partnership between the Principal Investigator and the CRCSD. Analysis: The following outcomes will be compared between intervention and control schools: school safety climate, violence-associated behavioral referrals, unexcused absenteeism, suspensions, and reports of school violence (e.g., bullying, assaults, and fights). Descriptive statistics will compare outcomes in intervention and control students, and General Linear Models will be used to control for confounding and to account for clustering. A cost analysis will be used to estimate the impact of the Link program per dollar invested. Product, Reports, Data Archiving: Products include presentations, manuscripts and policy briefs that will reach both the academic and practice communities. De-identified Link case management and school violence data will be archived. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 14, 2016