Program

Sep 12, 2008

OVERVIEW

Primary Project is
a school-based, mental health prevention program for children at risk for school
adjustment problems. In an evaluation of the program, 39 children in Grades 1
through 4 were randomly assigned to receive either the Primary Project
prevention program or to a non-intervention control group. Children receiving
the Primary Project prevention treatment showed significantly greater
improvements than the children in the control group in five of seven measured
indicators of school adjustment, including shy-anxiousness, learning problems,
assertive social skills, task orientation, and peer social skills. There were
no significant differences between groups for changes in acting out behaviors
and frustration tolerance levels.

DESCRIPTION
OF PROGRAM

Target
population: 
Children between the ages of 5 and 10 who are at risk for
school adjustment issues.

The Primary Project
is a school-based, mental health program designed for the early detection and
prevention of school adjustment issues in children. Children are screened for
early warning signs of school adjustment issues (e.g., mild aggression,
withdrawal, and learning difficulties). At-risk children then engage in
one-on-one sessions led by trained paraprofessionals. In the sessions, the
paraprofessionals oversee child play and encourage positive relationship
techniques that can be used in the school environment. The mentors target
outcomes such as task orientation, behavior control, assertiveness, and peer
social skills. Sessions occur weekly for 10 to 14 weeks, and each session lasts
between 30 and 40 minutes.

The sessions were
conducted in specially designed playrooms using materials such as hand puppets,
arts and crafts materials, clay, board games, punching bags, and clothes for
dress up.

The trained
paraprofessionals conducted play sessions according to a nondirective play
model, which allows children to lead the playtime activities and initiated
interaction with adults. The leader was available to provide support for the
child and to serve as a positive role model. The leader provided unconditional
acceptance of appropriate behaviors while setting limits on destructive
behaviors.

The cost of one
Primary Project session is typically under $40. A number of implementation
materials are available for purchase including a program development manual
($50), measures guidelines booklets ($30), a rating scale examiner’s manual
($35), a program core component video ($20), a DVD on supervision ($90), a DVD
on basic helping skills ($90), and a DVD on building connections through play
($45). The intervention developer can provide training, consultation, and
scoring services for free.

EVALUATION(S)
OF PROGRAM

Nafpaktitis, M.,
& Perlmutter, B.F. (1998). School-based early mental health intervention with
at-risk students. School Psychology Review, 27,420-432.

Evaluated
population: 
39 children in grades 1 through 4 who exhibited at-risk signs
for poor school adjustment served as the sample for this evaluation.
Participants resided in rural areas of central California and were 69% White,
23% Hispanic, and 5% African-American.

Approach:
Children were randomly assigned either to receive the Primary Project prevention
program or to a non-intervention control group. Children in the treatment group
participated once a week in a series of 12, 30-minute, one-on-one pay sessions
conducted by trained paraprofessionals.

Child aides
attended a two-day training to review the goals of the project, data collection
procedures, and confidentiality requirements. During the intervention, they
received a minimum of two hours per week of supervision.

Results:
Compared to children in the non-treatment control group, children receiving the
Primary Project prevention program showed significantly greater improvements in
five of seven measured indicators of school adjustment (i.e. shy-anxiousness,
learning problems, assertive social skills, task orientation, and peer social
skills). There were no significant differences between groups in acting out
behaviors and frustration tolerance levels.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Nafpaktitis, M., &
Perlmutter, B.F. (1998). School-based early mental health intervention with
at-risk students. School Psychology Review, 27,420-432.

Implementation information may be
obtained from:

Deborah Johnson,
M.S.

Director

Children’s Institute
274 North Goodman
Street
Suite D103
Rochester, NY 14607

Phone: (585)
295-1000; Fax: (585) 295-1090

E-mail:

djohnson@childrensinstitute.net

An implementation
handbook is available, free of cost on the Children’s Institute Website:

http://www.childrensinstitute.net/programs/primary-project/training-opportunities

KEYWORDS: Children, Elementary, Co-ed, Rural and/or Small Towns, School-Based, Cost, Manual, Mentoring, Tutoring, Aggression, Anxiety Disorders/Symptoms, Academic Achievement/Grades, Other Behavior Problems, Other Social/Emotional Health, Social Skills/Life Skills.

Program
information last updated on 9/12/08.