When the taxpayers of Seneca County voted in a new tax in 2008 for mental health and substance abuse services, the board's campaign promise was to share how levy funds were used from 2009 through 2013. We've given a brief description of crisis intervention training, the Suicide Prevention Coalition, LifeSkills and family intervention; so now it's time to talk about Care Teams.
While students are in the elementary grades, they are well known by their primary classroom teacher. When they move on to the middle school building, they are "new" students to the teachers. To make the transition easier for all, the Seneca County Family and Children First Council proposed to the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board that Care Teams be implemented, based upon a program developed in Muskingum Valley. Team members include school staff, Family and Children First Council, Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services, juvenile court, health district, YMCA and Department of Job and Family Services.
The teams meet frequently at the beginning of the school year to identify students who are doing well, those who are beginning to see some struggles and those who are involved in one or more child-serving systems and require extra attention. When school staff has some "heads up" on how a student is doing in his or her life, staff is better attuned to watch over the student and offer whatever assistance the student may need to be academically successful.
This program was begun with a three-year commitment working with the Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center so all members would be trained to recognize at-risk behaviors of the student body. Tiffin City School and Fostoria Community School staff took the lead in Seneca County. The intention was to give this program a three-year cycle and explore expanding it into other Seneca County schools. This has not occurred due to many of the child-serving systems facing financial worries that result in staff reduction, and often when staff is stretched, a new program is placed on a waiting list for better times.
The good news: Many of the original members trained still are employed and committed to assisting their students. While it may take awhile to bring other schools online with Care Teams, the program continues in the two original school systems.
If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640. The board's office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.