Student Assistance Program (SAP)


Pennsylvania' s Student Assistance Program (SAP) is designed to assist school personnel in identifying issues concerning attendance, behavior, family problems, alcohol or drugs, depression, or suicidal thoughts that may be creating a barrier to a student achieving academic 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 students.

SAP is a systemic process using techniques to mobilize school resources to remove barriers 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 to make recommendations to assist the student and the parent. When the problem lies 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 for treatment.

There are four phases to the student assistance process:

Referral - 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 community member. 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 and Intervention- 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 collected 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-school and/or community-based services and activities.

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 free drug and alcohol or mental health assessment. Assessments are completed by personnel from either Penn Foundation or The Council on Southeast Pennsylvania. It is our hope that with help the student accepts positive and productive behaviors for him/herself.

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.

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 SAP team also offers student support groups on various topics. Support groups in middle school are meant to be educational, helping students with common problems come together to offer support in a safe, confidential, environment. With the help of adult leaders, students work through issues that are interfering with their success as middle school students. Support groups are completely voluntary and parental permission is required. If you are interested in a group, please contact a SAP team member or a guidance counselor.

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