Supporting Students with Social and Emotional Issues
The Shrewsbury Public School District offers a myriad of services in order to identify and respond to a growing number of students who are struggling with social, emotional, and/or mental health issues. The following are various resources in place in the District:
Student Support Team: Each building in the District has a Student Support Team mechanism in place. These teams of educators include administrators, classroom teachers, school psychologists, adjustment counselors, guidance counselors, and school nurses. Students who are identified as struggling for a variety of reasons are discussed, and targeted interventions are developed.
Check and Reflect: A brief survey titled “Mental Health Check and Reflect” was developed by school psychologists across the District to help identify struggling students and whether students feel they have strategies to use when not having a good day.
Clinical Coordinators: Clinical Coordinators are full time Master’s level Behavior Analysts who work with all students across the district. The two Clinical Coordinators work to meet the needs of our entire student body. The Clinical Coordinator’s primary responsibility in general education is to support the classroom teacher(s) in the implementation of evidence-based behavioral strategies that help struggling students more successfully engage in learning. This support may be provided through any of the following: holding consultations, training of staff, conducting behavioral observations and when needed more formalized evaluations, and/or developmenting of Positive Behavior Support Plans. The primary responsibilities in special education are to develop instructional procedures, develop data collection and analysis procedures, supervise home support programs, consult to district wide programs, and provide professional development. In addition, the Clinical Coordinator works closely with building administrators, school psychologists, adjustment counselors and other service providers, using a problem-solving model to support students.
Psychiatric Consultation: A Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist is currently contracted four hours bi-weekly to provide consultation across the district through Assabet Valley Collaborative. Dr. Kimberlee Kusiak works with both Clinical Coordinators and school-based teams to address student referrals across the District. She also consults to the School Psychologist & Adjustment Counselor Department. In addition, Dr. Kusiak and the Clinical Coordinators offers “Family Strategies” course to families, free of cost, that provides parents with strategies to identify and respond to mental health and behavioral challenges.
Social Work: The Family Success Partnership (FSP), through the Assabet Valley Collaborative, is a family centered program that expands the mutual capacity of schools, state agencies and programs, human service agencies, and community-based resources to provide a flexible, comprehensive and accessible system of services to children with mental health needs that are beyond the scope of the school, but who do not meet traditional eligibility requirements for state agency support. FSP utilizes a wraparound model to serve at-risk students and their families whose challenges prevent success and well being in school. Shrewsbury currently contracts for support of up to 15 families each school year.
Partnership with UMass Child Psychiatry Fellowship Program: Shrewsbury has entered into a partnership with the UMass Psychiatry Department to host Child Psychiatry Fellows. Each Fellow completes a six-month rotation across the district. They have the opportunity to visit classrooms and participate in building-based consultation meetings. They observe classroom behaviors of both typical children and children with disabilities and learn about the provision of services in the Shrewsbury Public Schools. In addition, once a month they meet with the district’s consulting psychiatrist and clinical coordinators to review cases.
Mental Health First Aid Training: Much as CPR training prepares individuals to assist in cardiac emergencies, participants in the Mental Health First Aid course learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help. Four staff members in the District became certified Mental Health First Aid Instructors in the Spring of 2014, and since that time over 200 staff members have been trained in these skills.
Community Partnerships: In addition to these in-district resources, we have partnered with community agencies to further support our students and families. These community resources include Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, You, Inc., and Community Health Link.