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Emerging Practices with Promise

Submitted By: Karen Bowen, Sutter COE, North Central Adult Education Consort.

COE Bridges Gap To Provide Services For Adults Suffering Mental Illness

  • Type of Practice: Partnerships & Collaboration
  • Targeted Population: Adult Basic Education Students, Adults with Disabilities
  • Program Area(s): Adult Basic & Secondary Education, Adults with Disabilities
  • Consortia Involved:

The Challenge

County Mental Health Services serve adults who experience serious or ongoing mental problems. These individuals may struggle with a variety of academic concerns as well as other issues including time and stress management, communication, self-advocacy and feelings of low self-worth. They can benefit from education,support and training services to better prepare them to contribute to their community.

Sutter County Mental Health Services (SMHS) utilized the services of their local community K-12 Adult Education program to provide adult education services for their clients. When the K-12 Adult Education program closed as a result of flexible funding, SCMHS was no longer able to offer such services to their clients.

The Solution

To fill the void, the Sutter County Superintendent of Schools Adult Education has partnered with Sutter Mental Health Services.

Sutter COE provides an instructor and paraeducator to teach and assist those clients wishing to participate in the program. Depending on the level and ability of the student, the curriculum is designed to serve individual needs for basic skills, independent living and pre-vocational training. A student-run cafe co-located in the Activity Center provides opportunities for real life work experience combined with training in employability and individual living skills.


The partnership is in it's second year. Success stories include two adults who acquired their high school diploma during 2014-15, and several on track to graduate in 2015-16;an adult with PTSD who initially was unable to read who gained proficiency to navigate the internet and acquired technical literacy; and three adults who have attained gainful employment. Anecdotal data from SMHS staff indicates an increase in personal and coping skills, improved communication and self-confidence, and team work and ethic among the program participants.

The Data

As an emerging program, the evidence of performance is limited. However, the available data suggests that participation in the program can successfully prepare adults with serious or ongoing mental disabilities for employment and educational attainment. Gains may be expected to be incremental. Realistic and measurable program evaluation metrics will include basic skills progression, persistence in the program, attainment of skills, achievement of core competencies and employment.

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