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U.K. group leverages Devereux assessment tool to help youth build resilience

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is getting noticed across the pond.

This fall, a United Kingdom-based organization called SkillForce began using the Devereux Center for Resilient Children’s (DCRC) “Devereux Student Strengths Assessment” (DESSA) tool to measure the impact of a new program – and learn whether or not the program is helping develop resilience in children.

SkillForce empowers children and adolescents to build confidence, resilience and good character using the skills and experience of British Armed Forces veterans. The organization enjoys the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, and operates in more than 200 primary and secondary schools across England, Scotland and Wales.

Helping children develop inner strength

The “SkillForce Character Award Programme” – a pilot program aimed at younger children, ages five to 14 – enables British Armed Forces veterans to help children develop confidence and an inner strength that will carry them through life.

“We wanted to ensure we had a robust measurement tool in place to assess whether or not the pilot has a demonstrable effect on the resilience and inner strength of these students, in addition to improving their attitudes to learning, behaviour and progress at school,” explained SkillForce Chief Executive Officer Ben Slade. “Our academic partner – The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham – recommended the DESSA-mini assessment to us.”

In addition to other data collection methods, SkillForce is using the DESSA-mini tool on a quarterly basis within its pilot schools. “We are excited, as we are the first large scale pilot of this kind using DESSA in the United Kingdom,” he said. Findings from the year-long pilot will help SkillForce roll out the program to additional schools.

About the DESSA tool

The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) is a measure of behaviors related to resilience, social-emotional competence and school success. The tool is a standardized behavior rating scale that assesses the social-emotional competencies that serve as protective factors for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“Social and emotional competence is critical for our youth, and is essential to their success in school and, ultimately, in the workforce,” said DCRC Director Paul LeBuffe. “SkillForce does outstanding work in the communities it serves, and we are thrilled to assist them with this important measurement project.”

A learning experience

When asked how SkillForce’s use of DESSA is going so far, Slade added: “It is going well! DESSA is easy to administer and makes sense. Once we get the results, we can use them to amend the learning experience both for our young people and our instructors. It will be good for both parties to see how they are progressing, and areas that may require further development, working in partnership with the schools.”

In the U.S., DCRC’s tools and resources are used by approximately 5,000 school or community programs. Since its founding in 1995, the DCRC estimates that about 6 million children have been involved with, or impacted by, its assessment tools. To learn more about the DCRC and its assessment tools, click here. To learn more about SkillForce, click here. Questions? Contact Paul LeBuffe.

 

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