AMIKids to start work on Feb. 1

The organization hired by the Lafayette Parish School System to provide educational and behavioral intervention services to its most troubled students will start Feb. 1, said district assistant superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau.

The nonprofit organization, AMIKids, is accepting applications for teaching positions for the new program that will be housed at N.P. Moss Preparatory campus, said Sherri Ulleg, AMIKids communications director.

The staff will include a program director, a behavioral interventionist, two certified teachers and a mental health professional, Ulleg said in an email.

Ulleg said the company makes efforts to fill positions locally, however, some of the company’s staff may be relocated to Lafayette.

“We’ll fill as many locally as we can,” she said.

The School Board approved a contract for the company’s services at its meeting last week. The $184,000 contract is for educational and behavioral intervention services for about 30 students through the end of the school year. Superintendent Pat Cooper told board members last week that the Lafayette Consolidated Government and Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office committed to sharing the cost.

The cost for the services annually is $368,000.

At its Dec. 12 board meeting, both Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom and City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux committed to sharing the cost with the school system for the remainder of the school year.

Neustrom said Tuesday his office will pay a third of the $184,000.

City-parish government is still on board to cover a third, but the funding will require council approval, said Dee Stanley, city-parish chief administrative officer.

“We’re waiting on a cooperative endeavor agreement. … We’ll have to identify the funding,” Stanley said. “It presumably would be parish funds, which are very scarce. The thought is that a dollar invested in the future of a child pays dividends over the lifetime of that child.”

Neustrom said other efforts are in the planning stages to improve communication among agencies and groups within the city and parish that deal with troubled teens. More preventative measures such as AMIKids are needed in the community, the sheriff said.

“We want to do more in the area of juvenile justice,” Neustrom said.

The AMIKids program will be housed at N.P. Moss Preparatory, the site for the school district’s alternative program for students with discipline issues. The AMIKids program will target students who are not successful at the school and are most at risk for being expelled from the school system.

During the board’s Dec. 12 meeting, Eric Hall, AMIKids director of educational services, said the program’s “personal growth model” helps address and change students’ behaviors and has been recognized nationally for its recidivism rate of 24 percent.

Though on the same campus, the AMIKids program will be separate from the existing alternative program, school officials have said.

AMIKids is based in Tampa, Fla., and operates programs in Lake Charles, Branch, Baton Rouge, Harvey and Bossier City.

Ulleg said in preparation for the program’s opening in Lafayette, AMIKids staff is working with the district to identify eligible students.

The company’s contract includes consulting services for N.P. Moss Prep staff.

“We’re working with the principal there to see if there’s any support we can offer there,” Ulleg said.