Schools sign on to ‘Cradle to Career’
Students – and future students – in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District should be able to find the services they need now that the district has signed on to the “Cradle to Career” program.
“Cradle to Career” is a new program in Sonoma County, but the concept started in 2006 in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area. It’s a partnership that connects all segments of the education community from pre-natal to career level with community support to improve the educational, economic and health outcomes for Sonoma County youth.
Dan Blake, a career development specialist with the Sonoma County Office of Education, was one of two presenters at the Nov. 13 school board meeting.
“It’s a collaborative, cohesive way for families to get services and support programs,” he said Monday. “We want people to know what’s available.”
The program is supposed to fill in the gaps in the social service and education programs.
“It’s to help young people head off issues before they become issues,” Blake said.
The program, which started here in September, is in about 1,000 communities nationwide. There are about 20 agencies in Sonoma County that have signed up to be in the program, and so far, the majority have been school districts.
Because the program is still in its infancy, a lot of empirical data is hard to come by, but Blake said that in communities that are participating, graduation rates have been improving.
“For example, students are starting to get the health care and the dental care they need,” he said.
“We want to be the healthiest county in the state by 2020,” he added.
The lead agency on “Cradle to Career” is the county’s Department of Health Services, and Kellie Noe, who works in the Department of Health Services, was a co-presenter with Blake at last week’s meeting.
Noe pointed out that, countywide, one out of eight youths between the ages of 16 and 19 is classified as a “disconnected youth,” meaning they are neither enrolled in school nor do they have a job. “This places Sonoma County third from the bottom of the state’s counties that have a population of more than 250,000 people,” she said.
Noe said the goals of the program include:
• Every child enters kindergarten ready to succeed.
• Every child succeeds academically.
• Every child is supported in and out of school.
• Every young adult is prepared to achieve their life and career goals.
• Every young adult thrives and becomes a contributing member of the community.
School board members questioned Blake and Noe about things such as what’s next and how is it going to help teachers on a daily basis.
“The real effect is at the grass roots level,” Blake told them. “Teachers alone can’t solve the problems of our society. We have to be aware of what services are out there and connect the dots with community support.”
And Noe told the board it is a long-term program. “This is just the first step.”
The board didn’t waste any time signing on.
Boardmember Sal Chavez said the numbers stand out. “One of eight doesn’t have a job?” he asked rhetorically. “We need to make that number lower. This is a good step toward the bigger picture.”
Dan Gustafson agreed. “It’s a paradox. When things are tough, we get our act together,” he said. And he was amazed that children are in school only 11 percent of the time.
Board president Gary DeSmet said, “Getting our kids ready is going to cost money … a lot of money.”
The board was unanimous in its support of the program.