What is SAP?
Student Assistance Programs (SAP) are designed to help school personnel to identify issues which pose a barrier to a student’s learning and school success. At times, those issues may be related to mental health and behavioral concerns, depression, suicide or alcohol and other drug use.
The SAP utilizes a systematic process, along with a specially trained team of school personnel, to intervene and refer these students to appropriate school and/or community services.
Why Do Schools Have SAP Teams?
All school districts in Pennsylvania are required to establish and maintain a program to provide appropriate counseling and support services for students who experience difficulties in school.
How Does SAP Work?
The core of the program is a professionally trained team, including school staff such as teachers, principals, nurses, counselors, school psychologists, coaches and representatives from human services agencies. The team receives training and uses a process according to state guidelines. Student participation in the program is voluntary and is meant to be a supportive service for students and families. All information regarding a student’s involvement in the program is confidential and maintained in the best interest of the student.
Students may be referred on the basis of behavioral concerns, drop in school performance, mental health issues, including the risk of suicide, and drug an alcohol violations. Students may be referred to SAP by teachers or other school personnel, parents, friends, or themselves.
What Happens Next?
The SAP team reviews all referrals and an information-gathering session is started. Information is requested from the school staff about the student’s academic performance, attendance, behaviors, and other concerns. If this information verifies the concern, the school should inform the parents. Also, parents may have information which may be helpful to the team.
Together, the family and the SAP team can work to meet the needs of the student. Plans are then developed based on the individual student’s situation, the seriousness of the behavior, and the school’s policies and procedures.
What is the Parent’s Role?
A parent’s role in the education of their child is very important. Research shows that parental involvement in the education of their child increases the likelihood of success for that student. This holds true for children experiencing difficulties as well.
How Do I Make A Referral?
Anyone who is concerned about a student can make a referral. A referral can come from a student, parent, school personnel, or the student themselves.
A referral can be made by contacting the school. A concerned person could contact the principal, guidance counselor, or any of the SAP team members. A referral form will then be completed and sent to the team.
Referral forms are available in the guidance office. This form may be completed and placed in the PennCat Jr. Mailbox.