The Maine South Student Assistance Program
Teens face incredible challenges. These challenges range from keeping up with a demanding academic program to navigating the social strata to figuring out their beliefs and values that will carry into adulthood. The Maine South Student Assistance Program (SAP) was created in 2005 to provide prevention, intervention and support services for our students that are experiencing social and/or emotional barriers to learning.
Defining Student Assistance
Student Assistance provides an integrated system of care, including prevention, early intervention and support services that address mental health and substance use issues that otherwise result in barriers to student learning and success.
National Student Assistance Association 2008
Student Assistance Programs address barriers to learning that impact both the individual student and the school in order to increase student success while improving school climate. SAP staff utilizes effective practices, principles, and strategies along with a systems approach to respond to student problems. SAPs partner with parents, students, school resource officers, other school faculty, community coalitions, agencies and services in seeking to remove barriers that impede student success.
Student Assistance Programs utilize both individual strategies for identified students and environmental approaches to improve the educational opportunities for all students and educators.
The Student Assistance Continuum of Care
Prevention includes science-based programs and strategies that offer age-appropriate alcohol, tobacco, and other drug education, interpersonal and behavioral skills training, violence prevention strategies, and social norming strategies. Prevention efforts may also include community prevention strategies focused on increasing understanding about risk and protective factors, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and providing positive youth activities and service opportunities.
Identification and Referral
Those in the school community are trained to identify common warning signs of barriers to learning so that students may be referred to the Student Assistance Program. Warning signs include declining academic performance and attendance, increased behavioral problems, and health concerns. Identification may also come through referral by students and parents, policy violations, or through common risk factors such as teen pregnancy or geographic location.
The Student Assistance Program gathers relevant information in a fact-finding process to determine whether this is an appropriate Student Assistance referral. Typically, parents are also contacted as part of the fact-finding and solution process, and the student is interviewed to understand his or her perception of the problem.
Problem Solving and Recommendations
A plan is developed to help the student and family reduce the barriers to learning and improve the student’s chances for success. The plan attempts to link the student to appropriate in-school resources such as meeting with the school counselor, tutoring, mentoring, peer mediation, or participation in a life skill education or support group. Linking the student and family with needed community resources to assist with problems beyond the scope of school services may also be part of the plan.
Support and Follow-Up
As the student receives school and/or community services, the Student Assistance Program can coordinate the exchange of important information to increase the probability of success. For those students receiving treatment and support from community agencies, a school support plan may be implemented as well. The Student Assistance Program may provide monitoring of the student’s progress along with additional strategies over a period of time to facilitate continued progress