Elementary School Integrated Services Teams: Applying Case-Management Techniques

Article excerpt

The growing need for holistic interventions with at-risk families supports the need for an integrated services delivery model. In this model, professionals such as counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and nurses collaborate and serve as the nucleus for providing direct services to the child and the family. This multidisciplinary team approach meets academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of school-aged children and improves their chances to achieve academic success. Collaborative school-based or school-linked models for providing services to at-risk populations are found repeatedly throughout professional literature (Cohen, 1989; Edgar & Vadasy 1990; Eng & Jevne, 1989; Hacker, Fried, Bablouzian, & Roeber, 1994; Harold & Harold, 1991; Jehl & Kirst, 1993; Levy & Copple, 1989; Liontos, 1991; McCroskey & Einbinder, 1996; Melaville & Blank, 1991; National School Boards Association and American School Counselors Association, 1994; Opuni, 1991; Paavola et al., 1996; Stowitschek & Smith, 1990; Uphold & Graham, 1993). Although the process for creating and maintaining these teams has been addressed by the literature of each discipline, very little has been written on how to manage record keeping and measure accountability. This article presents a model for using case management as an effective record keeping and accountability system.

Case-Management Techniques

Some school counselors are school-based members of integrated services teams and are responsible for record keeping. They must find an expedient method for monitoring, evaluating, and recording academic achievements of referred at-risk students. Case management is a time-effective, flexible system that allows a collaborative team to monitor and coordinate care of many students at one time (Eng & Jevne, 1989). It has proven to be successful in education, public health, and child welfare agencies.

Eng and Jevne (1989) described how to apply a case-management approach to a K-9 school setting in Canada. The school counselor, principal, vice principal, resource room teacher, and referring teacher formed a Student Services Assistance Council (SSAC). In order to deal expediently with each case, a variety of forms were used to accurately record interventions and progress made toward goals in the academic and social/ emotional behavior of each child.

The SSAC met each week and members discussed new cases or gave status reports on continuing cases. All cases were evaluated to determine whether they should be closed, new interventions started, or new referral sources explored. Action or termination plans were created for each case. This approach allowed the school counselor to share responsibility with a multidisciplinary team of professionals for meeting the needs of many at-risk students. It also provided documentation of interventions for accurate reporting of accountability

Project EFECT

Project Education for Effective Collaborative Training (EFECT) used a similar school-based, multidisciplinary team approach that depends on case management for efficiency. The purpose of Project EFECT was to extend delivery of comprehensive academic, health, and mental health services to at-risk children and their families through a collaborative partnership between a school district and university training programs. Each Project EFECT team, consisted of one student intern each from the university's school counseling, social work, school psychology, and nursing programs. The team was assigned to work in a selected school 20 hours a week for two academic semesters. School administrators designed a referral system for the team. The team selected at-risk students who were performing below academic level from a referral list and assigned each student a case number. Team members met once a week for a 1-hr-and-30-min case-management staffing session under the supervision of a university faculty member from one of the disciplines and a school district supervisor. …