Conference focuses on ‘social and emotional learning’ as forward-thinking afterschool leaders, front-line staff plan for future

View photos from the conference: View photos from the conference: http://bit.ly/2iWNC3k (password hcde1889)

Several hundred area out-of-school time leaders and front-line staff gathered for the CASE for Kids 2017 Out-of-School Time Conference on Nov. 10-11. Social and emotional learning issues related to afterschool youth were at the core of the conference. Those involve students acquiring skills related to self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills and social awareness.

Karen Pittman, keynote, sociologist and CEO for the Forum on Youth Investment, opened the conference to out-of-school time leaders with this call to action:

“Our goal is not to celebrate youth that beat the odds; our goal is to change the odds,” said Pittman, who formerly served the Clinton administration as director of the President’s Crime Prevention Council.

Hosted by the Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids, or CASE for Kids, the conference held at the HESS Club in Houston, Texas included a panel discussion with community leaders led by CASE for Kids Director Lisa Thompson-Caruthers. The conversations centered on how to integrate social and emotional learning theory and practice, outreach and advocacy efforts to best support Houston area youth. Students from the University of Houston-Downtown Center for Public Policy helped facilitate the critical conversation. Data collected will be compiled into a report by HCDE’s Research and Evaluation Institute.

“As we continue to support out-of-school time professionals in gaining knowledge and skills in our field, we are specifically looking for additional social and emotional resources and interventions that supports our front-line staff,” said Lisa Thompson-Caruthers, CASE for Kids director. “We must support each other as we continue to get stronger and heal from Harvey.”

Front-line afterschool staff gathered Saturday for a panel discussion on students affected by Hurricane Harvey and their emotional needs.

Performer SaulPaul, part rapper and part singer songwriter, entertained and shared his story about his troubled youth followed by a successful recovery and graduation from University of Texas with honors. SaulPaul has performed multiple TED talks and has made his mark throughout the nation at music festivals, namely South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Most recently he performed at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In addition to practical and innovative workshops, other highlights from Saturday included a showcase of materials from the SMART Zone, a free, comprehensive collection of resources available to all Harris County out-of-school time programs.

CASE for Kids, a division of Harris County Department of Education, provides resources, trainings and funding for students in grades pre-k through 12 in afterschool programs in schools, child care facilities and community centers throughout Harris County.

About Harris County Department of Education: HCDE provides special education, therapy services, early education, adult education and after-school programming. Services are funded by government grants, fees and a local property tax rate of $.005195. For every dollar in local property tax collected, HCDE provides $4.40 in services to the 25 Harris County school districts. HCDE also operates four campuses for students with profound special education needs and adjudicated youth who require a low student-teacher ratio and highly structured environment. One-hundred percent of students served on HCDE campuses are at-risk. The organization is governed by an elected board of seven trustees and has 1,060 employees and 33 facilities, including 15 Head Start centers. More info at www.hcde-texas.org.

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