Field of Work: Promoting healthy behaviors at school.
Problem Synopsis: Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health indicate, "Attachment to school and family serve as protective factors against drugs, alcohol use, and violence. The most powerful predictor of adolescent wellbeing is a feeling of connection to school." One of the few school reform efforts of the 1990s attempting to build such a sense of connectedness to school, and thereby promote healthy behaviors in adolescence, was the Child Development Project. RWJF funded an evaluation which found that, relative to the comparison schools, five of the Child Development Project schools achieved broad positive change, including significantly lower alcohol and marijuana use and delinquency among their students.
Synopsis of the Work: In the 1990s, researchers at the Developmental Studies Center in Oakland, Calif., conducted a large-scale trial of an elementary school reform initiative called the Child Development Project, which attempted to build a sense of connectedness to school, and thereby promote healthy behaviors in adolescence. In a continuation of that project, the Developmental Studies Center disseminated nationwide a streamlined version of the project, now called the Caring School Community™ program, focused on community building as a critical part of the effort to make change in schools.
Key Findings: The federal Department of Education funded two independent evaluations of the Caring School Community program, in San Francisco and St. Louis. Among the findings: