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Our Work

Safe Communities Safe Schools (SCSS) is an adaptive model for school safety grounded in community engagement, capacity building, and data-based decision making. Safety is a product of every school’s individual climate, including settings, systems, and relationships. That is why our model supports schools to establish a diverse team of stakeholders who will collect and interpret data as well as develop, implement, and monitor an action plan specific to that school’s goals, culture, and resources. Balancing data-driven prevention and intervention strategies, the comprehensive plan reflects both community voices and student needs. Our research-based model is designed to build a school’s unique capacity to promote social, emotional, and physical safety—because every educator deserves a safe place to work, and every student deserves a safe place to learn.

Our Approach

The SCSS Model integrates over twenty years of research on school safety and violence prevention into a process that values and uplifts the unique real-life experiences of school communities. It balances what our educators, students, and families need to thrive with what research shows is effective in creating safe and inclusive schools.

Our five-phase approach is:

Comprehensive: The SCSS Model uses of a broad definition for school safety that includes social, emotional, and physical safety and encourages the use of both prevention and intervention when addressing school needs.

Data-Driven: Schools using the SCSS Model utilize individual- and system-level data collected from a variety of sources to identify school-specific strengths, challenges, needs, and gaps, set priorities, and make strategic decisions. Learn more about the surveys SCSS can provide your school here.

Actionable: Throughout SCSS Model implementation, school teams will develop, implement, and monitor an individualized School Action Plan that addresses their data-identified needs and incorporates the best programs and strategies aligned to their unique context.

Adaptable: We know every school community is unique, so the tools and processes included in the SCSS Model can be tailored to fit the context and build the capacity of each school. SCSS staff are committed to partnering with schools to support SCSS Model implementation and adaptations.

Contact us to learn more about the SCSS Model and opportunities to collaborate with our team.

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Our Partners

Over the SCSS Model’s long history, our team has had the opportunity to partner with schools, researchers, and local, state, and national organizations, government agencies, and legislators. All these partnerships have informed the SCSS Model’s growth and expanded its impact.

Past and current partners include: National Association of School Resource Officers, National Police Foundation’s Center for Mass Violence Response Studies, National Center for School Safety, and the Colorado School Safety Resource Center.

SCSS currently partners with Safe2Tell, a live, anonymous, 24/7 reporting tool led by law enforcement, to accept reports whenever a Colorado youth or concerned adult perceives a threat to their safety or the safety of others.

CSPV also currently partners with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival on Shakespeare & Violence Prevention. This school touring project combines professional Shakespeare performances with violence prevention research. Over 92,000 students throughout Colorado have experienced this innovative program since its inception in 2011.

Our Projects

Safe Communities Safe Schools – Indonesia (2020-2024)

CSPV is partnering with several international entities to develop and implement a contextually relevant adaptation of the Safe Communities Safe Schools model (SCSS) within two secondary urban areas in Indonesia (Depok City and Banda Aceh). This project is designed to address the risk and protective factors that impact the wellbeing and security needs of urban children and adolescents and is funded by Fondation Botnar. Partners on this project include the Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY), University of Indonesia in Depok City, and Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh.


Bureau of Justice Assistance STOP School Violence Technology and Threat Assessment Solutions for Safe Schools Program (2019-2022)

Project Title: The Colorado Threat Assessment and Management Protocol: A Model for Training and Implementation

CSPV researchers are partnering with the Colorado School Safety Resource Center to conduct a quality improvement evaluation of the Colorado Threat Assessment and Management Protocol (CTAMP) instrument and training program. The CTAMP helps multidisciplinary intervention teams identify, evaluate, and manage students posing a security risk or safety threat. The quality improvement evaluation will examine: (1) the extent to which the CTAMP training program increases participants’ threat assessment knowledge, skills, and capacity and (2) the extent to which the CTAMP training is implemented in schools as intended.

Bureau of Justice Assistance STOP School Violence Program Grant (2020-2023)

Project Title: Training Colorado’s Rural Schools and Districts on Threat Assessment and Anonymous Reporting for an Integrated Systems Approach to Violence Prevention

CSPV is partnering with rural school districts and their local law enforcement and mental health partners to identify and address students’ behavioral and mental health needs to prevent violence. The project provides training and technical assistance to 30 rural school districts’ safety teams, school staff, and students across Colorado. The trainings address the warning signs for violence (e.g., suicide, homicide, assault, abuse, bullying), the ways to report those signs (e.g., trusted adult, Safe2Tell Colorado), and the procedures for assessing and managing risk and threats. Additionally, the project includes training on systems coordination for violence prevention. This coordination seeks to build and deploy a gap-free system, where tips are thoroughly investigated, where concerning information is shared appropriately, and where students in crisis are compassionately supported. Our project partners include the Colorado School Safety Resource Center, Colorado Attorney General’s Office, National School Safety Center, National Association of School Resource Officers, and Colorado Rural Schools Alliance.

Our Impact

Our National Institute of Justice funded randomized trial of the SCSS Model (Dymnicki, Kingston, Arredondo Mattson et al., 2021), with 46 Colorado middle schools and 62,590 students, found that:

  1. Intentionally addressing readiness barriers can lead to improvements in schools’ readiness to use a comprehensive approach to address school safety. For example:
    • Improvements were found in schools’ leadership to support the SCSS Model
    • School teams reported establishing clear standards at their schools for implementing the SCSS Model and the climate supporting SCSS implementation improved over time
    • Increases were found in the school teams’ belief that the SCSS Model is important for improving children’s mental/behavioral health at the school and in team’s level of priority to implement the model
  2. Implementation data can be used to monitor implementation quality and promote data-driven quality improvement.
  3. Comprehensive, schoolwide interventions produce change one piece at a time, rather than in all areas at once.
    • Within a 2-year period it’s feasible to support a school in developing a functioning school-based team, conducting resource mapping, and using results from that (and other data sources) to select, train staff for, and begin implementing an evidence-based program

Additionally, the school teams we partnered with during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic year completed monthly evaluations, which revealed that:

  • 97% of school team members agreed their partnership with SCSS contributed to a clearer understanding of their school’s current supports and resource needs
  • 94% of school team members agreed their partnership with SCSS built their school’s capacity around prevention efforts
  • 95% of school team members agreed their partnership with SCSS improved their school’s climate and culture

Our History

The SCSS Model was developed with funding from the Colorado Trust by multiple stakeholders in 1999 following the tragedy at Columbine High School. The SCSS Model’s first iteration was an actionable process for schools that integrated the Columbine Commission’s recommendations, violence prevention efforts, evidence-based programs, and prevention science to improve school safety and climate.

From 2008-2012, CSPV received funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for the development of auto-generated reports for the SCSS School Climate Surveys. To date, the SCSS School Climate Surveys are a mainstay of the SCSS Model and have been provided to nearly 200 schools nationwide.

Most recently in 2016, CSPV received funding from the National Institute of Justice’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative to implement and evaluate the SCSS Model with 46 middle schools in Colorado. This funding allowed for the development of additional innovations within the SCSS Model, which allowed schools to (1) measure and strengthen their readiness to adopt evidence-based practices and strategies, (2) build high-functioning multi-disciplinary teams to champion the work, and (3) receive tailored tools, processes, and technical assistance to support high-quality implementation.

Resources

To ensure lessons are learned beyond this project, we create resources and publish in scientific journals to provide researchers and practitioners access to information that can help improve school safety: