Premier's Award for Innovation and Excellence goes to the Journeys Partnership

Five school boards working with different ministries help high needs students

Journeys Partners: Chinook’s Edge School Division, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, Red Deer Public Schools, Wild Rose School Division, Wolf Creek School Division

Working together to better meet the needs of some the most challenging students in schools, has earned five local school jurisdictions that Alberta School Boards Association’s covetedPremier’s Award for School Board Innovation and Excellence.  The award was presented by Gordon Dirks, Minister of Education, to the Board Chairs of the Journeys partnership.

Launched in 2013, the Journeys Learning Program serves 11 to 18-year-old students with complex developmental, mental health and behavioral needs. The program delivers wrap-around service to the students using a multi-disciplinary approach. The goal of the program is to move these students back into the regular school system.

Alberta Health Services – Mental Health (AHS), Central Alberta Child and Family Services (CFS) and the City of Red Deer RCMP work with the five school boards. Each contributes support for staff and resources.

The partners created Journeys because they felt the most vulnerable students were not being well served in their schools or the community because of the students’ significant and complex needs. Ten spots are available in the program. Potential students are assessed by an intake committee made up of representatives from education, health and family services. Before a student can be referred to the program, all other avenues within the school jurisdictions must have been exhausted.

Located in Red Deer’s Alternative School Centre, the Journeys Learning Program is operated by a Central Services Liaison, an on-site school administrator, a teacher, a social worker/children’s mental health therapist and three full-time educational assistants. Each student has a learning support team and a plan and services tailored to their individual needs. The program has seen success with several of the students in the 2013-14 Journeys cohort in the process of moving back to the regular school system.