Foundation awards grant to elementary

SAN BENITO — The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has awarded a $25,000 grant to a local elementary school.

Angela G. Leal Elementary was among several schools around the state to receive funding.

The grants support the deployment of evidence-based, trauma-informed alternatives to exclusionary discipline models.

Research has found a strong link between untreated trauma and negative outcomes and behavioral issues in schools, the foundation stated.

With the grant, the elementary school plans to implement services geared toward parent involvement.

The funding will help provide seven parenting class sessions, said Counselor Noelia Sanchez.

Those sessions touch on topics such as basic parenting skills, understanding their children and discipline.

“If they complete all seven sessions, they receive $150 to be used however they want,” she said.

Some time ago, letters were sent to each parent of each student alerting them to the new service. The first 50 parents who replied got into the classes.

The grant also will help the school celebrate and reinforce the children’s positive behavior, with popcorn and movie parties.

Yesterday, the children who had a good record of behavior were able to participate in the party. Sanchez said the school holds these types of events four times a year.

This was the third one.

Sanchez said the grant has helped improve the relationship between school and parents.

“We’re seeing more parent participation,” she said. “Parents have really stepped up because before they weren’t as visible.”

With that visibility, Sanchez said parents can call if they need anything at anytime.

“That level of trust between school and parents has definitely grown,” she said.

There is a growing interest in widening the use of proactive, trauma-informed, equity-driven approaches that lead to more positive behavioral outcomes.

Examples of such interventions include, but are not limited to, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, Social Emotional Learning, and Restorative Discipline, the foundation stated.

“This is a new program area for us, but it is fully in keeping with our mission of advancing recovery and wellness,” said Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation and associate vice president for diversity and community engagement at the University of Texas at Austin.

“These schools are doing the vital work of testing psychosocial interventions that are sensitive to the impacts of trauma and children’s unmet emotional needs.”

The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research and public education.