Raising Success Rates for Low-Income Youth

FY 2009 and FY 2010 award winners Diana Formoso, Ph.D., and Mercedes Ter Maat, Ph.D., mentioned in NSU’s “Academic Notes” article for their project “Connections:  Families & Schools Supporting Our Youth.

A low income should not be a determining factor for student success. But, all too often, children who fall into this category also fall through the educational system’s cracks.  With this in mind, a determined group of faculty members, students, and volunteers from Nova Southeastern University’s Center for Psychological Studies (CPS) are working to help improve academic and socialization outcomes for low-income youth.

“When families and schools work together to support children who display resilience in the face of adversity, we find that they do better academically and also in terms of their own well-being and behavior,” said Diana Formoso, Ph.D., a CPS faculty member.  Formoso, along with Mercedes Ter Maat, Ph.D., LPC, ATR-BC; Christian DeLucia, Ph.D.; and volunteers from the CPS doctoral-level and undergraduate programs are the facilitators for Connections:  Families and Schools Supporting Our Youth.

This NSU project is a partnership with the Broward County Public Schools and four of its low-income elementary schools. 

Targeting children of diverse backgrounds, parents, and schools, the project works to improve outcomes for low-income youth.  Its goal is to promote coping skills, create stronger family relationships, increase parental involvement and practices, encourage support from adults and peers, and foster more school-home communication.

To ensure ready access to the program, the neighborhood school is the host for youth meetings and parenting sessions.  A light dinner is served, and on-site child care is provided.  Formoso said the ease of access has helped attract and keep families involved.  Research conducted during the program will be used to educate other practitioners in the field who work with low-income and ethnically diverse families.  Findings are expected to be published in a scholarly journal and will be presented at state and national conferences.

“By devoting our resources to serving these low-income schools, we are able to use the gift of education to serve the local community,” Formoso said.