• Student Assistance Program -  CARES

    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Student Assistance Program (SAP), which is
    administered by thePA Department of Education’s Division of School Options and Safety 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

    is a systemic process using techniques to mobilize school resources to removebarriers 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 tomake recommendations to assist the student and the parent. When the problemlies 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 or treatment.

    There are four phases to the student assistance process:

    - 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 communitymember. 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-schooland/or community-based services and

    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, isrequired to ensure
    the appropriateness of the recommended services, effectiveinteragency 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 competenciesfor 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.