Ozark’s Diversionary Services Positively Impacting Students
“This program has been an invaluable support.”
“It’s helped all around with making sure the parents are informed and everyone is on the same page and same goal in mind.”
“I hope this program continues as it has been a gift to my child and this community.”
These are excerpts from thank you letters Ryan McClain, Ozark School District Diversionary Services specialist, received this year from parents regarding the school’s Diversionary Services program, which is a partnership between families, the school, the court system, the juvenile office and the community. The program started in 2019 in an effort to divert students away from making choices that would place them in the juvenile system or negatively impact them later in life.
“It’s a voluntary proactive program for kids who are having trouble — in academics, attendance, behavior, outside of the home or in the home,” McClain said. “This is more of a whole-child intervention, not just a school intervention. We not only help with school needs but with physical needs and mental needs. We’re looking at impacting the whole kid. I personally mentor the kids and talk to them about practical strategies they can implement in their life to change their day-to-day in the long run.”
Christian County Associate Circuit Court Judge Jessica Kruse meets with participating families regularly to create and track individual family goals and supports.
“The Diversionary Services program has been a successful collaboration between the school system, court system and juvenile court. We have been able to combine the resources of each entity in order to customize plans for individual students, which has shown to be a tremendous benefit to these kids and their families,” Kruse said. “We are encouraged by the progress we have seen this year and believe that, in the long run, we will accomplish our goal of diverting kids from the juvenile court system.”
Now in its second year, the program serves between 20-25 students at a time. And while the school can refer a student for the voluntary program, so can parents.
“Some parents are having problems managing their child at home,” McClain said. “This is a positive, proactive means to use before they get referred to the juvenile office.”
Anyone wanting more information on the program is encouraged to contact McClain at email@example.com.
“I want to provide support,” McClain said “I want students to independently have problem solving skills and healthy habits for life.”
Diversionary Services is a partnership between a student's family, the school, the court system, and the community for the purpose of strengthening each student's readiness for the future. Pictured from left is Ozark School District Executive Director of Student Services Gerald Chambers, Ozark School Social Worker Stacy Johnson, Christian County Associate Circuit Court Judge Jessica Kruse, Ozark School District Diversionary Services Specialist Ryan McClain, and Christian County Deputy Juvenile Officer Kane Northcutt.