• Safe Communities
    Safe Schools

    Planning Is Prevention

The Safe Communities Safe Schools (SCSS) model is a theory-driven, actionable and comprehensive approach to school safety. It is designed to operationalize what we know works to create a positive school climate and to inform identification and intervention with students presenting mental and behavioral health concerns.

SCSS was first developed by multiple stakeholders following the tragedy in Colorado at Columbine High School in 1999. It provides a process for improving school safety and climate by integrating the Columbine Commission's recommendations, violence prevention efforts, evidence-based programs, and prevention science approaches. The SCSS model described below aims to prevent and reduce problem behavior, address mental and behavioral health concerns, and increase prosocial behavior in students by addressing key malleable risk and protective factors through a comprehensive effort.

SCSS in Action

The SCSS model consists of three core components intended to deliver the most effective strategies for impacting school safety and a positive school climate in a comprehensive manner, including: (1) the engagement of a multidisciplinary school team and the development of key community partnerships committed to data-driven decision making, (2) the implementation of an effective information gathering system to collect and interpret data, and (3) the development of an evidence-based MTSS to address a range of the school's needs and honor the school's cultural context.

A comprehensive approach to school safety also intentionally integrates the following strategies into the school's MTSS: (1) training all staff to identify and support students with mental/behavioral health concerns; (2) educating all students about bystander awareness and safety concern reporting (e.g., to an anonymous tip line or a trusted adult); and (3) reviewing threat assessment policies and procedures for compliance with the Secret Service and Department of Education's guidelines.

MTSS Roadmap model

The core components of the SCSS model are delivered through the five-phase circular implementation roadmap designed to build the readiness and capacity of schools to implement a comprehensive approach to school safety. These five phases are to: (1) build a foundation for implementing the model; (2) use data to identify the school's strengths, challenges, and gaps; (3) create an individualized school action plan; (4) implement the school's action plan; and (5) evaluate the plan.

The SCSS team is in the process of developing tools designed to help schools implement the model, including: strategies for assembling a multidisciplinary team for this work; facilitation guides for SCSS team meetings; milestones and benchmarks for implementation; a resource mapping process to gain insight into the existing programs and practices that are in place to support school climate and culture; and strategies to interpret and use the data tools that are provided with the model (e.g., climate survey, readiness assessment, etc.) to plan, prioritize, and monitor efforts. If you are interested in being notified when these tools are released, please sign up for our mailing list.

Current SCSS Partnerships

We are currently partnering with 46 Colorado Front Range Middle Schools to deliver and evaluate the SCSS model as part of the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative funded by the National Institute of Justice (December 2015-December 2019). Our school partners receive customized tools, resources and strategies, including a Blueprints Program of each school's choice, to help meet schools data-identified prevention and early intervention goals. We also provide schools with systems to gather data, including our school climate surveys, to inform/monitor their efforts related to school climate, culture, and mental/behavioral health. If you have any questions about this project, please contact Jody Witt, at jody.witt@colorado.edu or (303) 492-6404.