Episcopal Community Services, Philadelphia, PA

Using Cognitive Behavioral Skills to Improve Educational Outcomes for At-Risk Youth

Abstract: In 2010-11, Episcopal Community Services (ECS) embarked on a pilot project with support from the Barra Foundation. The goal was to determine whether cognitive behavioral skills can be used in a social service setting to improve the educational attainment of homeless youth. In undertaking the pilot, ECS’ hypothesis was that, even in a non-clinical setting, cognitive behavioral skills could be used to challenge teens’ negative thoughts and, thereby, improve their educational outcomes. Between November 2010 and April 2011, the pilot project served 29 young people aged 14 to 21. Most of these teens grew up in families with histories of chronic homelessness. The pilot’s results were promising, showing a direct connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that could lead to significant changes in long-term educational success.

Pre- and post-test survey data indicated an increase in the number of teens who had identified career plans (7% increase), knew the educational requirements for their career (11% increase), were thinking of attending a school or job training program after high school (6% increase), and could identify the barriers that might keep them from completing these tasks (21% increase), after participating in the project.  A “vocation belief survey” also revealed a significant (68%) change in the teens’ understanding that “my thoughts affect my behavior” after participation in the pilot.

The project results have generated significant interest and recognition from others in the field.  ECS will continue to test, implement and refine this innovative model of using cognitive behavioral skills to improve client impact.  The agency is also disseminating the pilot’s findings and practice manual to individuals and organizations interested in replicating or adapting it for their own work.

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Private Organization Accreditation

Northside Psychological Services is a combination of both private practice and community mental health provider. We provide services to children and adults (EAP, private insurance, private pay, etc.) in our private practice setting. In our Community Care Program, we provide services to children and adolescents in their homes.


Holy Family Institute

Sister Linda Yankoski, President/CEO

The Council On Accreditation provides all stakeholders involved in the delivery of social services the assurance that the organization is credible, effective, and is committed to quality improvement. The COA process is an important tool for anyone involved in leading an organization to establish best practices and maintaining and updating these practices over time.
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