Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention (“AIP”) is a mental health/special education/prevention organization that partners with public schools, city and state agencies, and other nonprofits and mental health organizations to support children’s success through academic achievement and the development of healthy behaviors and relationships. AIP focuses on students with demonstrated risk factors and families seeking help in promoting their children’s healthy emotional and social development. AIP’s primary service area is the Boston Public Schools.
AIP was founded in order to integrate public and private mental health and education services for troubled children within a “full-service” public school. AIP has demonstrated that a deeply integrated public/private partnership can provide equal or better care for students with behavioral or emotional diagnoses at less cost to the district than out-placement in private schools, improving the students’ emotional and educational outcomes while providing prevention services to hundreds of other children in the school.
AIP’s First Programs: Irving School Partnership
Since its beginning, the Inclusion Day Program has operated at the Washington Irving Middle School. The Irving is located in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood. It serves 700 predominantly low-income, minority and immigrant 6th, 7th, and 8th graders from neighborhoods with high risk factors across the city. The Day Program model consists of three classrooms along one corridor in the Irving School, staffed with certified special education teachers hired by the school district who work side by side with mental health clinicians and behavioral specialists hired by AIP. AIP manages the program on a day-to-day basis, collaborating with the school’s administrative, instructional, and student support staff and with the district’s special education department. The program serves 20 middle school youth with serious emotional and behavioral diagnoses who are referred by the school district.
With this special education program at its core, AIP then built a comprehensive set of full-service school supports around the program, to serve other children in the school. Full-service school program components:
- Therapeutic after-school program open to any student in the school referred by staff because of social, emotional, or academic difficulties or concerns
- Therapeutic summer program
- Family involvement
- Community service learning
- Mental health clinical services and case management for students referred by the school
- 21st Century Community Learning Center, coordinating community partnerships and other after-school and school-day educational and enrichment opportunities for the entire school student body.
- Sports teams
In 2003, AIP was recognized for its leadership in the full-service school field when it was selected as a demonstration site (the country’s only urban site) for the U.S. Dept. of Education/Eisenhower Foundation Full-Service Community Schools Replication Project, created to disseminate nationally best practices in innovative student support partnerships. Today, AIP at the Irving is Boston’s oldest full-service school site.
Expanding to a Second Full-Service School Site
As a leader in the local full-service school movement, AIP recognizes that the best way to build a strong public/private school/community partnership is from the ground up. In 2001-02, AIP joined the design team for a new school being constructed by the City of Boston in Grove Hall, a section of Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. This gave AIP the opportunity to contribute to the design and development of a new construction full-service community school. Once the school was built, AIP was tapped to sit on the Governing Board of the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School (originally named the New Boston Pilot Middle School). As the Sept. 2004 school opening approached, AIP was selected as the Full-Service Partner of the Frederick School. The AIP/Frederick School Partnership continues to expand in response to the needs of the school. Core full-service school components:
- Therapeutic After-School Program
- Summer, Before-School, Saturday Programming
- Family Involvement
- Counseling and Psychoeducational groups
- Coordination of School Partnerships
- Facilitation of School Social Work
Children’s Mental Health Services: New Models
In 2005-08, AIP began expanding its service approaches to children’s mental health, building on its expertise by adding two new programs that collaborate with schools in different ways:
- Connecting With Care is a school/community partnership to support children’s mental health in one Boston neighborhood by bringing together a collaborative of private mental health agencies to provide full-time school-based social work for children and evening hours in a centrally located school-based clinic to provide mental health services for families. AIP is the coordinator and facilitator of this innovative program model.
- Multisystemic Therapy: AIP is the only provider in Massachusetts of this evidence-based treatment for chronic, violent, or substance-abusing juvenile offenders. MST is an intensive home-based treatment model that works with the child’s family to change how youth function. Since 2006, AIP has provided these services to Boston Public Schools students and children from the cities of Boston, Chelsea, and Revere, Massachusetts.
Advocacy and Leadership
For over a decade AIP has been a leader in disseminating its innovative special education partnership with the public schools. The organization is frequently called upon to present on its model to audiences around the country. The AIP special education/full-service school inclusion model was showcased by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) in both 2002 and 2006 as an exemplary model for serving severely emotionally disturbed (SED) students within a public school setting.
Since the early 2000s, AIP has been a leader locally and nationally in the full-service school movement. AIP is a founding steering committee member of the Boston Full-Service Schools Roundtable and also presents frequently at conferences and events convened by the Coalition for Community Schools.
The AIP model has demonstrated its staying power in part because of its stable funding strategy. With its core funding from the school district, which annually contracts with AIP to operate the Special Education Day Inclusion Program, AIP then adds on additional grants and contracts to flesh out its programs. Since 1995, this funding strategy has enabled AIP to flexibly meet the special education, mental health, and academic support needs of its schools and its target constituency: local children and youth who are especially at high risk of school failure or social/emotional/behavioral problems due to mental health issues or social factors.