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Salt Lake County Adopts New Program to Improve Kids' Lives

Utah is launching a new program to better children's lives called Evidence2Success. Courtesy: Annie E. Casey Foundation
Utah is launching a new program to better children's lives called Evidence2Success. Courtesy: Annie E. Casey Foundation
December 7, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY - Kearns Township in Salt Lake County is gearing up to launch a new program called Evidence2Success that takes a hard look at what's going on in kids' lives, then focuses attention on the solutions that show the most promise.

The program uses data from the state SHARP survey which asks kids in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 questions in a number of key areas: antisocial behavior, sexual behavior, substance use, education, emotional well-being and physical health.

Karen Crompton, director with the Salt Lake County Department of Human Services has taken a preliminary look at the data.

"A couple of things jump out, an increase in the use of e-cigarettes - it's off the charts, a lack of connection to school and community, and also some reported self-harm, not necessarily suicide but self-harm," says Crompton

A 20-person community board is being put together. It will meet in the third week of January to tackle the data and determine Kearns Township's top priorities.

Suzanne Barnard is director with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which gave the county a $150,000 grant to administer the program. She says the survey results help identify factors in the community that help or hinder children.

"Protective factors are things like strong family connections, ability to pick good friends, refuse drugs. Risk factors are how likely are they to be truant or chronically absent from school or to get involved with drugs early on," says Barnard.

The program already has been in place for a year in Rhode Island.

Rebecca Boxx, director with the Providence, Rhode Island, Children and Youth Cabinet, says chronic absenteeism is down by five percent in participating schools whereas it went up five percent district-wide.

"Particularly with one of our programs called Positive Action, that skills such as self-management and self-esteem and those protective factors around both attendance and attachment to school and emotional well-being are moving in a positive direction," says Boxx.

The Granite School District will re-administer the SHARP survey every two years in order to measure progress.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - UT