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Children's Services

Child Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP)

A national study in 1982 found that two-thirds of all children with severe emotional disturbances were not receiving appropriate services. These children were "unclaimed" by the public agencies responsible to serve them, and there was little coordination among the various child-serving systems. To address this need, Congress appropriated funds in 1984 for CASSP, which was envisioned as a comprehensive mental health system of care for children, adolescents and their families.
Pennsylvania first received a federal CASSP grant in 1985 and began building a state and local infrastructure for a comprehensive system of care. In 1991, the CASSP system began in Berks County. The fundamental goal then and now is to facilitate the process of cross system collaboration and inclusion of families as full partners.

CASSP Core Principles

Child-centered: Services are planned to meet the individual needs of the child, rather than to fit the child into an existing service. Services consider the child’s family and community contexts, are developmentally appropriate and child-specific, and build on the strengths of the child and family to meet the mental health, social and physical needs of the child. 
 
Family-focused: Services recognize that the family is the primary support system for the child. The family participates as a full partner in all stages of the decision-making and treatment planning process, including implementation, monitoring and evaluation. A family may include biological, adoptive and foster parents, siblings, grandparents and other relatives, and other adults who are committed to the child. The development of mental health policy at state and local levels includes family representation.
 
Community-based: Whenever possible, services are delivered in the child’s home community, drawing on formal and informal resources to promote the child's successful participation in the community. Community resources include not only mental health professionals and provider agencies, but also social, religious and cultural organizations and other natural community support networks.
 
Multi-system: Services are planned in collaboration with all the child-serving systems involved in the child’s life. Representatives from all these systems and the family collaborate to define the goals for the child, develop a service plan, develop the necessary resources to implement the plan, provide appropriate support to the child and family, and evaluate progress.
 
Culturally competent: Culture determines our world view and provides a general design for living and patterns for interpreting reality that are reflected in our behavior. Therefore, services that are culturally competent are provided by individuals who have the skills to recognize and respect the behavior, ideas, attitudes, values, beliefs, customs, language, rituals, ceremonies and practices characteristic of a particular group of people.
 
Least restrictive/least intrusive: Services take place in settings that are the most appropriate and natural for the child and family and are the least restrictive and intrusive available to meet the needs of the child and family.  
 

The Student Assistance Program (SAP)

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Student Assistance Program (SAP),  is administered by the PA Department of Education’s Safe School Office. In partnership with the PA Department of Health’s Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and the PA Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, is designed to assist school personnel in identifying issues including alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and mental health issues which pose a barrier to a student’s success.   The primary goal of the Student Assistance Program (SAP) is to help students overcome these barriers in order that they may achieve, remain in school, and advance.  While Student Assistance Programs exist in other areas of the country, the structure and operation of the program in Pennsylvania is a unique expression of an integrated model serving the needs of Pennsylvania families and their students. 
 
SAP is a systemic process using techniques to mobilize school resources to remove barriers to learning. The core of the program is a professionally trained team, including school staff and liaisons from community alcohol and drug and mental health agencies.  SAP team members are trained to identify problems, determine whether or not the presenting problem lies within the responsibility of the school and to make recommendations to assist the student and the parent.   When the problem lies beyond the scope of the school, the SAP team will assist the parent and student so they may access services within the community.  The student assistance team members do not diagnose, treat or refer to treatment; but they may refer for a screening or an assessment for treatment.

There are four phases to the student assistance process:

Referral- Anyone can refer a student to SAP when they are concerned about someone’s behavior -- any school staff, a student’s friend, a family member or community member.  The students themselves can even go directly to the SAP team to ask for help.  The SAP team contacts the parent for permission to proceed with the SAP process.

Team Planning – The SAP team gathers objective information about the student’s performance in school from all school personnel who have contact with the student.  Information is also collected from the parent.  The team meets with the parent to discuss the data colleted and also meets with the student. Together, a plan is developed that includes strategies for removing the learning barriers and promoting the student’s academic and personal success to include in school and/or community-based services and activities.

Intervention and Recommendations– The plan is put into action.  The team assists in linking the student to in school and/or community-based services and activities.   The team might recommend a drug and alcohol or mental health assessment.     

Support and Follow-Up– The SAP team continues to work with and support the student and their family.  Follow-up includes monitoring, mentoring, and motivating for academic success. 

It is the parent’s right to be involved in the process and to have full access to all school records under the applicable state and federal laws and regulations.  Involvement of parents in all phases of the student assistance program underscores the parents’ role and responsibility in the decision–making process affecting their children’s education and is key to the successful resolution of problems.

The student assistance process is based upon state guidelines, professional standards and policies, and procedures adopted by the local school board of directors.  Professional training for team members in all phases of the student assistance process, which is consistent with state guidelines and conducted by a Commonwealth approved training provider, is required to ensure the appropriateness of the recommended services, effective interagency collaboration and compliance with state and federal laws protecting the privacy rights of parents and students.

The training of team members by a Commonwealth approved training provider, ensures the board of school directors, school administrators, parents, students, and the public that team members have received up-to- date professional training consistent with accountable standards and appropriate procedures.  Guidelines for the Commonwealth Student Assistance Program training system contain training standards and competencies for SAP team professionals. 

For those students receiving treatment through a community agency, the student assistance team, in collaboration with parents and the agency, can assist in helping plan in-school support services during and after treatment.  The team’s effectiveness in helping the student and the parent remove the barriers to learning and improve student performance depends on the training of the individual team members, maintenance of the student assistance process, level of administrative commitment and board support, active parent and student involvement and the available resources both in school and the community. 

The Clearfield and Jefferson Counties have two SAP Liaison/Consultants. The behavioral health liaison/consultant position is staffed through Community Connections. The drug and alcohol liaison/consultant position is staffed through  the Clearfield-Jefferson Drug & Alcohol Commission.

The Community Connections Liaison/Consultant is a member of the following core teams:
Brockway Jr/Sr High School
Clearfield County Career and Technology Center
Curwensville Jr/Sr High School
DuBois School District (High School & Elementary)
Glendale Jr/Sr High School (Shared with Cambria County)
Philipsburg-Osceola Jr. High School (Shared with Centre County)
Philipsburg-Osceola Sr. High School (Shared with Centre County) 
Punxsutawney Middle School
Punxsutawney High School 
 
The Clearfield-Jefferson Drug & Alcohol Commission Liaison/Consultant is a member of the following core teams:
 Brookville Jr/Sr High School
DuBois Middle School
DuBois Area Catholic School
Clearfield Middle School
Clearfield High School
Harmony Jr/Sr High School
Jefferson County-DuBois Area Vocational-Technical School
Moshannon Valley Jr/Sr High School
West Branch Jr/Sr High School 
 
If you have a referral for the Student Assistance Program contact the Guidance Counselor at your school to obtain more information and to assist in making a referral.

Student Assistance Program Parent Brochure:
www.sap.state.pa.us/uploadedfiles/SAPparentbrochure.pdf

Student Assistance Program - Guide for Students Brochure:
www.sap.state.pa.us/uploadedfiles/SAPguideforstudents.pdf 

Crisis Services can be reached
24 hours a day / 7 days a week by calling

1-800-341-5040