N E W S R E L E A S E
June 1, 2012
Chris Dahlberg, County Commissioner
St. Louis County Courthouse
Duluth, MN 218-726-2453
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg to Honor James Ellingson
with “Customer Service Recognition Award”
In keeping with the St. Louis County Board’s 2012 theme of recognizing those county employees who have demonstrated exemplary customer service, Third District County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg will honor James Ellingson, with the Board’s “Customer Service Recognition Award,” on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., just prior to its regular meeting to be held in the Duluth St. Louis County Courthouse, Mr. Ellingson will be recognized by the County Board.
James Ellingson, an Initial Intervention Unit (IIU) social worker in the county’s Public Health & Human Services Department, along with Ms. Deb Montgomery, Parent/Community School Liaison, from Duluth’s Piedmont Elementary School, have developed a creative model to keep young students stay in school. The “Early Intervention Attendance Project” was started as a pilot program in the 2010-2011 school year. Deb and James, along with other school staff, met every week to review student attendance. This model of cooperation and James’s commitment to the project and the school team, have resulted in reduced unexcused absences, a decrease in students who have repeated attendance problems, and a stronger relationship and communication between the school and the department.
Commissioner Dahlberg praised the collaborative model of attendance intervention noting, “It allows us to positively intervene in a child’s life, when we see them at high risk and struggling, almost always due to situations out of their control. Children, by nature, want to succeed, and our intervention has the ultimate goal to see them realize happy, healthy, productive lives as adults.”
Commissioner Dahlberg continued, “The project combines the efforts of St. Louis County and Piedmont Elementary, with the goal of improving school attendance and increasing communication between parents, the school, and county social workers.”
In practice, the Early Intervention Attendance Project works like this: Ms. Montgomery would contact the family or teacher to resolve issues before the student missed their seventh unexcused full day of school. After the seventh day, she would make a state-mandated report to the county’s Public Health and Human Services Initial Intervention Unit. James Ellingson, acting as the departments IIU liaison to Piedmont School, would then work with the school team and parents on resolving the matter. Once James received the referral, in almost all cases, he would get permission from the parents to work with the school to help address the child’s absences. As a team, they would work together to address such issues as transportation, mental health services for the child or family members, school concerns, and other family issues.
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