Districts to Pilot Mental Health, Drug, Alcohol Initiative; Three Westmoreland County School Districts Are Piloting an Enhanced Student Assistance Program to Promptly Provide Behavioral, Mental Health or Drug and Alcohol Counseling and an Array of Other Services This Year. [Derived Headline]

By Himler, Jeff | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 6, 2016 | Go to article overview

Districts to Pilot Mental Health, Drug, Alcohol Initiative; Three Westmoreland County School Districts Are Piloting an Enhanced Student Assistance Program to Promptly Provide Behavioral, Mental Health or Drug and Alcohol Counseling and an Array of Other Services This Year. [Derived Headline]


Himler, Jeff, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Three Westmoreland County school districts are piloting an enhanced Student Assistance Program to promptly provide behavioral, mental health or drug and alcohol counseling and an array of other services this year.

"It will be more like one-stop shopping," said Christine Oldham, superintendent at Ligonier Valley schools, which is introducing the program along with the Franklin Regional and Jeannette districts.

"We are really excited about this," Oldham said. "We see this as an opportunity for a lot of our families to get connected to services."

The program is operated through Westmoreland County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, which provides each district with a liaison from subcontractor Westmoreland Casemanagement and Supports Inc. The liaison will work with core teams at schools to assess the needs of referred students and match them with related services.

In past years, those referred to the Student Assistance Program and their parents might have had to do a lot of the legwork to obtain the services recommended for them. The program will ease some of that burden, officials said.

"Our liaison will have office space in the district, and she'll be able to meet with parents and students directly and conduct a diagnostic assessment and almost immediately connect them with services," Oldham said.

Previously, Ligonier Valley had different liaisons assigned part time to its high school, middle school and elementary buildings.

"Now, there will be one full-time individual who will be familiar with all of our families and can provide more consistency and coordination. Now the parents have one person they're communicating and working with," Oldham said.

Dirk Matson, Westmoreland County's director of human services, indicated the three districts were selected for the pilot based on need.

"We asked if they'd be interested, and they jumped at the chance," he said.

He said the pilot is "much more consumer-friendly. …

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Districts to Pilot Mental Health, Drug, Alcohol Initiative; Three Westmoreland County School Districts Are Piloting an Enhanced Student Assistance Program to Promptly Provide Behavioral, Mental Health or Drug and Alcohol Counseling and an Array of Other Services This Year. [Derived Headline]
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