Special Projects Fund

Grantee Name

Partnership for Results

Funding Area

Special Projects Fund

Publication Date

April 2011

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

February 1, 2007 – July 31, 2009


More than 30% of rural Cayuga County children in kindergarten through grade three have emerging mental health and behavior problems that could be addressed effectively through early intervention.

Access to mental health services in rural areas, however, is hampered by chronic poverty, limited insurance coverage, a shortage of mental health professionals, limited transportation, and great distances between health care access points. To improve early mental health intervention services to high-risk rural children, the Resilience Project—previously attempted only in urban schools—was implemented in the four largest rural school districts in Cayuga County: Port Byron, Union Springs, Jordan-Elbridge, and Cato. Paraprofessional mentors, closely supervised by a mental health clinician, used standardized resilience mentoring techniques to promote positive social, behavioral, and emotional development among high-risk children shown to have emerging behavioral and social-emotional problems in kindergarten through third grade. The results of the treatment groups indicated that the children had substantial and statistically significant improvements across three measures (assertiveness, behavior control, and task orientation), but no change in the fourth (peer sociability).

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Recruited, screened, and hired four paraprofessional staff members to act as mentors in the program.
  • Trained mentors in the three critical modules of the Resilience Project: building the mentor-child relationship, learning about and managing feelings, and developing behavioral competencies and coping skills.
  • Selected and trained a project supervisor.
  • Identified children to receive the intervention based on teachers’ screenings.
  • Received consent from parents for their children to participate in the project.
  • Assigned participants in equal numbers either to an intervention group or to a waitlist group, which functioned as a control group.
  • Held one-on-one sessions with students where mentors provided structured opportunities for children to discuss and label feelings in a supportive environment, introduced problem-solving skills, and coached the children on ways to rehearse critical skills.
  • Assessed participants using the Teacher-Child Rating Scale (T-CRS), which measures aspects of social and emotional competency relevant to school adjustment, before and after the intervention.
  • The Youth Policy Institute (YPI), a Hamilton, New York-based nonprofit professional evaluation and technical assistance agency, independently evaluated the project.