Omaha Public Radio News
Mon November 24, 2008
Building Bright Futures moves forward with more action plans
By Katie Knapp
Omaha, NE – Building Bright Futures is turning its focus to academic support, behavioral services and mentoring.
Bright Futures released its final three Task Force reports Monday. The first, after-school mentoring and tutoring, focused on positive role models and activities. Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey, who chaired that Task Force, says a UNO study shows as many as 39,000 students in the Omaha area are unsupervised at the end of the school day. In addition to expanding after-school programs, the Task Force also wants to expand tutoring programs.
The Academic Support and Career Awareness Task Force is focusing on closing the achievement gap. UNO Chancellor John Christensen, the Task Force's chairman, says that gap ranges from 17 to 40 points. Their action plan also includes training high quality teachers and providing resources for families, such as adult education and parenting classes.
Bright Futures' Youth Health and Behavioral Health Task Force wants more mental health services for young people. That Task Force proposes creating a Comprehensive School Health Program which would bring acute care, counseling and screening in to the schools. Dr. Rubens Pamies of UNMC served as the Task Force's Chairman. Dr. Pamies says the drop-offs of teenagers under Nebraska's former safe-haven law shows why more services are needed.