Personal Future Planning Can Reengage Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

On May 15, 2012, JoAnne M. Malloy, Ph.D., of the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire presented a Webinar for the Community of Practice for School Behavioral Health titled “Personal Futures Planning and Youth Engagement.” The presentation centered on students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) and ways for engaging EBD high school students in their academic and career planning. This group of students is the most likely disability group to be in a segregated academic setting, have the highest rates of disciplinary infractions, and are many times perceived by teachers as having significantly lower levels of social competence and school adjustment.Specifically, Dr. Malloy presented on ways to engage this group of students that emphasize relationships, rigor of academics, relevance to the EBD student, address the needs of the whole child, and involve students and families in transition planning

One program discussed was the Rehabilitation, Empowerment, Natural Supports, Education and Work (RENEW) program. RENEW was developed in 1996 and is focused on community-based, self-determined services and supports for students with EBD. It has shown promising results for youth who typically have very poor post-school outcomes. Strategies employed by RENEW include:

  • Personal Futures Planning;
  • Career Focused Person Centered Planning;
  • Individualized Team Development and Wraparound services;
  • Flexible Education Programming;
  • Individualized School Transition Planning;
  • Naturally Supported Employment;
  • Mentoring; and
  • Sustainable Community Connections.

Dr. Malloy showcased the Personal Futures Planning program, an application of person-centered planning. It was emphasized that this is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process for:

  • Learning about the whole person which is separate from defining "deficits" and "needed services" which can occur when working with students with EBDs;
  • Helping EBD students create positive visions for their futures;
  • Helping others organize around EBD students to make these visions come true;
  • Arranging support in a way that is empowering to EBD students and likely to move them toward their goals.

Three key components to Personal Futures Planning are to: (1) develop goals that the student has helped to create, (2) orient the EBD student to the program, and (3) create a team consisting of a group of individuals chosen by the EBD student. These components have been shown to reengage students in their education. Despite the high disengagement students with EBD have, along with their propensity to drop out of school, these programs have shown success in reengaging EBD students is their education.

To learn more about the RENEW and the Personal Futures Planning program, including specific program details, please see the presentation PowerPoint located within the National Community of Practice (CoP) on School Behavioral Health.

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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