Program goals continue to remain the same even in the third year of offering the program.
By the end of the school year, members of the RISE team will deliver at least two ninety-minute educational sessions per month for participating youth and parents. Participation assists in creating relationships and experiences with caring adults and offers opportunities for everyday challenges such as learning to get along with others, sharing and being in new environments.
By the end of the school year, a minimum of 45% of the program participants will demonstrate increased knowledge of key school readiness skills as measured by comparing outcomes on the pre-post content assessments. The more knowledge and skills a child has upon entering school, the more prepared they will be for kindergarten. RISE also allows for increased opportunities for social interaction.
By the end of the school year, books will be provided at each session in order to increase parent opportunities to read to their child. Reading together provides parents a chance to bond with their child.
By the end of the school year, enroll a minimum of ten students in the RISE program in Giles County. The local Pre-K program is limited and can only accept twenty students each year. With no local head start program serving several of the local schools, RISE provides an opportunity for these children who otherwise would not be given the chance to participate. By attending a program within the walls of the school they will eventually attend, children are able to become more familiar with the facility and school personnel.
By the end of the school year, provide a minimum of five read-a-loud activities for children and their parents. A copy of each book read during the RISE session is given to each family. This allows parents to read at home and reinforce the story from the session. Planning meetings were arranged between members of the staff and the school system.
During the first two years of the program, the HUGS social counselor, health educator, and county director were involved in the initial discussions about the RISE program startup. The health educator presented the plans for the program to the local health council, which routinely serves as an oversight committee for related projects. Members of the health council have varying degrees of expertise including early childhood and education. Serving as an oversight committee for nearly twenty years, this group of stakeholders has a wealth of experience when it comes to providing support for such a project. Information about the program was made available at the local schools and details were also shared through the use of informational flyers designed by members of the planning group. Children ages three to five years who were not able to participate in a head start program or the Pre-k program were the primary group targeted to participate in the program. Initially, project planning for the RISE initiative began in November 2016, as a result of an effort to expand an existing community partnership with the local school system. Members of the early literacy PPI team at the health department were instrumental in taking the initial steps leading to the creation of a plan with Minor Hill School to deliver the program.
The first year of offering the program, meetings were arranged between health department staff and representatives from the school during the months of December 2016 and January 2017. In February 2017, the first session of the program was held at Minor Hill School. Two ninety-minute sessions were offered each month thereafter through the month of May.
The program was offered again in 2017-2018 at the Minor Hill School and followed a very similar time frame for delivery.
During the month of September, participants began the program and will once again conclude with post-testing during the month of May. At the last session, school personnel took participants and their parents on a tour of the school. During the tour, parents have the opportunity to meet school personnel and become familiar with school administration. Teachers discuss what a typical day is like and briefly cover classroom expectations for children and their parents. The Giles County Health Department has a long history of partnering with Giles County Schools. Representatives from the school system have consistently promoted health department activities and programs. In particular, Minor Hill School has been involved with various health department initiatives. Since May 2012, the school system has been a recipient of Project Diabetes funding from the Tennessee Department of Health. School personnel, including the Coordinated School Health Director, provided oversight on the standards and appropriate activities for the target age group and served as a key partner in planning the RISE program. School representatives took a hands-on approach by actively recruiting youth to participate in the program. A program flyer was created to share with other local agencies serving youth. A contact with the school system's central office served as a liaison with the school board and during the month of February, a school board member attended a RISE session in order to learn more about the program. Also a vital partner in helping deliver health-related programs in the community, the Giles County Public Library was instrumental in the success of RISE. As part of their service to the public, the library provided information for parents about gaining access to the online library. The local library has provided guidance in regard to appropriate reading materials for the RISE students.
This project has received attention from local leaders and continues to gain interest from other agencies outside of Giles County. Minor Hill School was contacted by the State of Tennessee Department of Education, about possibly sharing information about the project with statewide leadership. In December 2017, the RISE Initiative was named a statewide Gold Standard Bright Spot project by Commissioner John Dreyzehner for being innovative, successful and replicable. Highlighted as a best practice within primary prevention, the RISE initiative was selected following an application process and panel review. Various projects across the state of Tennessee were considered for this honor with only a select few being chosen.
The Giles County Health Council has been a key partner in many health department initiatives. Various members of the council were involved in the program startup and program planning. Several members of the health council have served as volunteer facilitators. As far as resources, program supplies were purchased through the local Giles County Health Department budget earmarked for primary prevention initiative programs. For this project, PPI funds were utilized to purchase supplies such as crayons, scissors, pencils, and glue. These items were distributed to students in backpacks designed specifically for the program. Minor Hill School has been instrumental in the success of the program by providing a space to deliver the sessions in addition to other supplies such as paper, pencils, and books. Through a successful and continued partnership between the health department and the local school board, participating schools in Giles County have access to resources such as books and other supplies that can be used with the program.