As we return to school, we are discovering students are enrolling and showing up. What we are learning is that many of our students are lonely and have felt disconnected and possibly abandoned by the adults they depend on. Our youth crave and value the feeling of being cared for by adults. Social-emotional learning, per se, is not a curricula, a task, or a universal screening with a triage procedure. Each of these have a place, as they are designed to support youth and enable access to needed resources. However, these are strategies only. Strategies are not what create connections and are not the things that are sought out first. They are activities that become effective once a youth feels cared for, connected to, and valued for who they are. We cannot create that kind of connection by focusing on being busy, creating structures, and leading with a need for efficiency.
The work that is first and most essential, is the work that is the most informal and natural. Start and continue with a simple and persistent message of care: “Hello! I’m here, come join me.”
How do you convey to the youth you work for that you love working with youth, that you are excited to see them and want to know how they are? This approach settles the system, encourages perspective, creativity and even fun.
How is this achieved? Start with divvying the list of youth up amongst the list of adults within the school community. Have each adult make it their business to text, phone, or otherwise reach out to youth, with the sole desire to share their interest in the other, according to the safety guidelines at your school/district. Pending that policy, this is the kind of contact that does not even require a response and is a one-to-one focus on caring for youth, and not wanting them to feel alone. That is the heart of the work at hand.
Once you are in a place of connection that leads to resource sharing, PSESD Support has the following services to offer:
Student Support Services is made up of many programs and projects designed to assist educators to improve student connection by effectively addressing the emotional, social, behavioral and health needs of students. This year we have a continuation of familiar services, reimagined to strengthen connection, engagement, support and health during a time of distance learning. These include:
- School Safety: PSESD offers no-cost training and support in developing threat assessment processes, using the Washington State adapted Salem-Kaiser Model. Additionally, through cooperative membership, we offer consultation, facilitation and support for both school-based and community multi-disciplinary threat assessments on demand. Through district Safety Cooperative membership, PSESD will be providing a series of school safety training offerings this year, along with a School Safety Institute, scheduled for December 3, 2020.
- Student Assistance: Since the early 1990s, the Student Assistance Prevention Intervention Services has been available in secondary schools across the region. Student Assistance Programs represent a comprehensive model for the delivery of 6–12 prevention, intervention, and support services. Student assistance services are designed to identify and reduce student substance abuse and mental distress through direct services and through peer leadership strategies. Services are located at CPWI Coalition communities and also available through fee for service. This year, we are available to anyone interested in creating an effective universal screening process for behavioral health.
- Coalition Support: PSESD is also acting as the fiscal agent to two state-funded drug-free youth coalitions, one in the White Center/Highline community and another in the Spanaway/Bethel community.
- School Nursing: With a focus on small district support, our school nurse administrator is poised to offer consultation and organize relevant training for all nurses across the region. This year, we will also be offering direct nursing services to charter schools.
- Regional Networking and PLCs: Quarterly Crisis Response team network, bi-monthly Counselor and Social Work network, school safety, and social emotional learning support, through the Student Support Services Network.
- Behavioral Health Navigator: This year we are very excited to move forward with mental health and behavioral health services coordination. We have hired Lane Krumpos to learn from schools and providers about the structural and technical barriers for youth accessing services and facilitating the removal of such barriers, while fostering partnerships across multiple systems. One of Lane’s early tasks will be to engage in listening sessions to gain a clear picture of the needs and interests of our regional communities.
As another key component of her work, PSESD is positioned to offer no-cost suicide prevention, intervention, post-vention policy and procedure guidance, incident consultation, and training. We have scheduled five regional Zoom trainings for the school year and are also available to schedule a training for your team as capacity allows.
- A year-long trauma-informed schools institute designed to support the resilience of staff and students alike
- On-demand training related to social emotional learning, resilience, vicarious trauma and staff wellness, ACES and child abuse response, and motivational interviewing
- Guidance for developing an SEL approach
To learn more or access this or any of the services listed, please contact Kim Beeson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Student Support team would like to offer you the following resources related to supporting social emotional health for students, families, staff and schools: