Q: What is BIST?
A: BIST is an acronym that stands for Behavior Intervention Support Team. It is one of Ozanam’s main programs that grew out of a desire to help keep at-risk students in their community schools by providing a safe and productive learning environment for everyone. As a form of early intervention, our BIST consultants provide training and other community-based services for teachers and administrators in order to give them the tools they need to help struggling students succeed.
Q: How many schools are impacted by the BIST Program?
A: BIST currently serves more than 300 schools in approximately 50 districts throughout the Midwest! By working directly with teachers and administrators through its BIST Program, Ozanam is able to impact thousands of students indirectly each year.
Q: What kind of training do BIST consultants provide?
A: Consultants help teachers, administrators, parents and students learn techniques to create positive change and a healthy learning environment for all. The curriculum is based around a concept called G.R.A.C.E. – Giving Responsibility and Accountability to Children in Education. Topics are tailored to fit each school’s needs and can include the following: discipline techniques, anger management, child abuse, substance abuse prevention, stress management, classroom behavior problems, girl dynamics, ADHD, depression, suicide prevention, partnering with parents, academic motivation, and more!
Q: Who participates in the program and how does the process start?
A: BIST’s programs are developed specifically for each school and can be applied to individuals, teams or the entire faculty. The process begins by meeting with key people from the organization in order to take an in-depth look at the situation. This is followed by three hours of in-service training in order to give staff a feel for the philosophy. BIST consultants also provide a recommended plan of action. The plan typically includes a communication system of regular meetings, safe places where kids who are in trouble can seek help, mentors who will support teachers of difficult children, and a crisis intervention team. Additional consultation (usually between 35-50 hours) is provided as needed, along with phone or email consultation.
Q: What other services does Ozanam’s BIST Program offer?
A: Consultants can provide staff support and problem solving for schools facing a particular crisis; administrative support to develop and implement a comprehensive discipline plan; support for counselors and social workers within schools, individual support for teachers; facilitation of student groups; and facilitation of class meetings to deal with discipline issues, etc.
Q: How much do BIST services cost?
A: Fees are determined based on each school’s needs. Typically, an annual membership package for an individual school costs approximately $3,000-$5,000. District-wide services usually are calculated at $3.80 per student enrollment. As another alternative, services can be billed at $175 per hour or approximately $1,000-2,000 per day for in-service training/consultation.
Q: What challenges exist for this program?
A: One of the biggest challenges is funding at the school district level. As schools have been forced to cut back, they sometimes are unable to continue contracting with our BIST Program for support services. As a result, Ozanam is exploring the potential to raise supplemental funds for scholarships to some schools so that they can continue partnering with us.
Q: What opportunities and growth has this program experienced?
A: Our BIST Program has expanded in certain areas throughout the Midwest. It is growing again in the Kansas City area with the addition of several schools in the KCK district, as well as another school in North Kansas City. It has also experienced growth in Nebraska outside the Lincoln area (where several consultants are based). Consultation in Springfield, Illinois, has also expanded to Peoria. In addition to partnering with school districts, BIST recently expanded its contract with the Children’s Division in order to provide specialized training and support services to foster parents.
Q: How can people in the community support Ozanam’s Behavior Intervention Support Team Program?
A: People can support BIST by talking to teachers and schools about its benefits. The program has largely spread through word-of-mouth efforts, and so your support makes a big difference. Ozanam is also seeking recommendations for funders who might be interested in donating to support BIST scholarships for schools who are unable to pay for continued consultation.
To learn more about Ozanam’s BIST Program, please visit www.bist.org or www.ozanam.org.