Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr.


1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

Kids Adjusting Through Support (KATS) is a citizen-initiated, nonprofit organization offering free support groups to Rochester area children and parents who have encountered catastrophic illness or death in their families. In 1997, KATS implemented a school-based program to address the overwhelming problem of increasing youth violence. KATSí school-based program is based on research showing that future violence is often tied to generational cycles of grief and violence. The school-based program enables children impacted by murder not to act out their powerful emotions against others in the future, but to find productive ways to grieve, problem-solve, and orient their lives in a positive direction. KATS programs are held in various locations to ensure accessibility. There are in-school, after-school, evening, and Saturday sessions. All sessions are free. KATS provides transportation if necessary. Some 400 communities across the country have started a program modeled on KATS or indicated a desire to do so.

2. When was the program created and why?

Founded in 1985, KATSí initial focus was to serve children whose parents had -- or died of -- cancer, AIDS, or other serious illness. KATS subsequently added programs for foster children and families; children affected by abuse or neglect; families who experienced the death of a child; families with a child with serious health problems; and, families who suffered a violent death. In 1996, staff at a City middle school asked KATS to develop a program for students impacted by the violent death of a family member or friend. KATS worked with City government, school faculty, students, and families to design a school-based program, utilizing group exercises and methods, to mitigate the impact of violence on young people and give them productive, nonviolent ways to cope with their grief, anger, sadness, guilt, and other self-esteem depleting emotions.

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

There are pre- and post-intervention evaluations to demonstrate effectiveness in changing the way children cope and in increasing family communications. Follow-up evaluations gauge long-term benefits. KATS has served over 6500 participants and benefitted from the services of 1700 volunteers. Over 100 school personnel have been trained as school-based group leaders; 200 students affected by violence have been served in the school-based program.

4. How is the program financed?

Individual contributions; United Way; various foundation and government grants.

5. How is the community involved in the program?

KATS is a truly grassroots effort with only 2 paid staffers.

6. What are the major lessons learned from this program?

(a.) Primary intervention in the lives of young people experiencing grief or the effects of violence can prevent future violence; (b.) Program can be replicated nationally.

7. Contact person:

Dr. Michael Henrichs

Kids Adjusting Through Support


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