Transcript: School Mental Health Matters: Strengthening Local School Mental Health Systems
Natalie Romer: Welcome. And again, thank you for being here today for this webinar on School Mental Health Matters: Strengthening Local School Mental Health Systems. This session is being hosted in partnership with the California Center for School Climate [CCSC] and Project Cal-Well, two CDE [California Department of Education] projects. My name is Natalie Romer, I’m a Senior Associate at WestEd and I will be your moderator for today’s session.
Our agenda for today will include a brief overview and welcome, then an introduction to the SHAPE System. We will hear how Del Norte has used the SHAPE System, and then share some information about opportunities with the California Center for School Climate.
We invite you to visit the California Center for School Climate website to explore a range of free supports that we offer to districts and schools across the state. Nisha will be posting the center’s URL [https://ca-safe-supportive-schools.wested.org/California-center-for-school-climate/] in the chat now. You can also use the QR code on the screen to visit our website. The goals of the Center, focus on supporting districts in their efforts to improve school climate for students and staff, by meeting districts where they are at, and providing relevant supports. Now, I would like to pass it along to Hilva Chan from the California Department of Education for a brief welcome. Hilva.
Hilva Chan: Thanks, Natalie. Good morning, everyone. On behalf of the CDE, I’d like to welcome you to this mental health session. My name is Hilva Chan and I’m an Education Program Consultant with the CDE. We are so happy that you can join us today. We understand the pandemic has put an enormous stress on everyone in the past two years, especially school staff that are trying their very best to help students reconnect and reengage, support them academically, while managing their own stress and taking care of their families. So, I want to applaud you for what you have been doing to support your students. The CDE realizes the challenges, and to better support schools and districts, we launched the California Center for School Climate in January. The CCSC offers many training opportunities and provides technical assistance to help schools build a safe and supportive school climate. We know that having a positive school climate is critical, especially during times of high stress.
It is positive relationships and social supports that make us stronger, make us feel like we are not struggling on our own, and keep us going. CDE has been implementing Project Cal-Well, a mental health initiative, since 2014. In our current cohort, Project Cal-Well worked with eight districts to address student mental health through a three-component model, which includes creating a positive school climate, expanding school-based mental health services, and building collaborative partnerships to support students and families. You can check out more about Project Cal-Well and all resources by scanning on the QR code or you can also access Project Cal-Well from the CCSC website. Through the work of Project Cal-Well, we realize that each district student mental health system could look very different, reflecting local dynamics and capacity. However, all districts would benefit from some form of capacity assessment, but you simply could not improve what you don’t know. We are so happy to introduce you to SHAPE, a free web-based tool that you can use to support student mental health. And you also hear from Del Norte Unified, a Cal-Well district on their experience launching SHAPE.
Besides Project Cal-Well, the CDE works with many other partners to support student mental health. We are hosting a webinar next Tuesday, May 24th to showcase over 15 mental health interventions and resources for students and staff. We’ll drop the link in the chat in a few minutes. Again, thanks for joining us today. It’s great to have you here.
Natalie Romer: Thank you, Hilva. So next, to help our presenters tailor their presentations and responses to your questions and get a better sense of who’s in our audience, we’d like to do a quick poll of which organizations and agencies we have represented here today. If you could all please take a moment to respond to the poll that’s being projected onto the screen.
Okay, excellent. So, it looks like we have a nice mix here. Mix here with the majority being from district offices, followed by school sites, county offices of education. Also, welcome our community-based organizations, and we have some that responded as other. Great.
So, at this point, I’m delighted to introduce Dr. Elizabeth Connors, who is an Assistant Professor at Yale University in the division of Prevention and Community Research and at the Child Study Center. She is one of the developers of the SHAPE System housed at the University of Maryland’s National Center for School Mental Health, where she previously served as faculty and continues to be Director of Quality Improvement. Welcome, Dr. Connors.
Elizabeth Connors: Thank you so much, Natalie. It’s such an honor to be invited to present to you all today and just to give you an insider kind of sneak peek as to what the SHAPE System is. We’ll make sure that everyone has all the resources they need so that you can follow up after this and continue to look at demonstration videos or any other resources you need to learn more about SHAPE. It’s great to see that we have representation from all levels of the waterfall cascade of school mental health here. And I think this is something SHAPE does well. Whether you’re an individual who cares about comprehensive school mental health, or you’re at the school building level, the district level, or the state level, there are options for SHAPE accounts for you inside here that will match whatever your level and role is.
So, as was mentioned before, the SHAPE System is a free public access web-based platform. It offers individual schools, districts, and states a workspace and targeted resources to support continuous quality improvement and to advance high quality school mental health systems. So, I’ll show you in a moment, SHAPE houses the National School Mental Health Census, which is the school mental health profile, and standardized performance measures for teams to do together to really help school mental health systems document the features of their school mental health system, prioritize their quality improvement efforts for making improvements, and then track your progress over time. So, I have a few slides here that I’d like to walk through briefly, and then I’m actually going to close my slide deck and screen-share SHAPE so we can drive through it together a little bit more interactively.
Before I tell you more about SHAPE, I do just want to pause for a moment and make sure everyone is familiar with the National Center for School Mental Health. If you’ve not heard about it already, I encourage you to check out our website at schoolmentalhealth.org, and also please sign up for our Listserv that comes out every couple of months. This is a federally-funded National Center for School Mental Health. We’re funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration, within that the Maternal Child Health Bureau. Our mission is to really strengthen policies and programs and school mental health to improve learning and promote success for America’s youth. The National Center is based at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, and we would be pleased for you connect with us in any ways you’ve not connected yet.
So, you can go to the SHAPE System while I’m talking. I encourage it. It’s www.theshapesystem.com. And first, I just want to tell you about a couple of things that you will see on the homepage when you get there. You’ll notice on the very top, there’s a welcome video that will just kind of walk you through some of the key tools and features of the system. I encourage you to check that out and also use that as a tool to share with others. As you kind of scroll down the homepage, you see a snapshot of the many features of SHAPE, which I’m going to go through next in detail. So, you see it prompts you here, that you can sign up for yourself as an individual, your school, your district, or your state. And it has some information there about the different features that you can find within the system, which we’ll go through.
I also want to let you know that if you keep scrolling down on the homepage of SHAPE, there’s a really neat resource that’s just available on the public side of the page, which is the School Mental Health Policy Map. And this is actually an interactive map where you can use the categories on the left-hand side to look for different policies that may be available, whether those policies are addressed or not addressed in different parts throughout the United States and US territories. So, this is something I think not everybody has realized is always on SHAPE. It’s right there on the homepage. It’s a little bit of a newer feature, but there’s useful information. For example, mental health staff to student teacher ratios you can see in which states and territories those ratios are being met, not met, et cetera. So, if you have some needs to access some public domain information about school mental health policies across the US, I encourage you to check out this little feature. At this point, all 50 states and over 15,000 schools are engaged in SHAPE, whether that’s at the state level or at the district level.
So, here’s how you sign up. And I just want to take you through a couple of screenshots here because once I log in, you’ll see it go right into my SHAPE account because I’m already a registered user. So, I just want to show you what you would do as your very first time signing up for SHAPE. On the top right-hand corner, you simply click sign up, and it will ask you to enter your name, email, role, position, and state. Once you do that, another section will appear asking you what type of account you’d like to create. So, there’s four options: individual, school, district, and state. If you want to learn more about those different account types, you can just click “learn more” and there will be a pop-up window that comes up with a little description. And just know that the vast majority of the resources and so forth that we’re going to be looking at today appear in all of these different sections.
If you’re signing up as a school or a district level person meaning that you are attached to a school or district, you are a member of the school or district team, and maybe, in fact, you’re a community partner but you’re working within a school or within multiple schools at the district level you’re going to be asked if you are employed by the school or district. So, in order to open up an account for the very first time, or even to join an account at the school or district level, you have to be employed by the district, and the person who opens up that account is automatically the administrator of the account. If there’s already an account, one of the account administrators will need to approve your entry into the account. So, this was a feature that was developed in one of our more recent improvements and iterations of the SHAPE System, where our stakeholders let us know that it was really important that, if a school or district was opening an account within SHAPE, it should be someone employed by the school or district, and then, if community partners want to join, or other partners, it will actually send an email to the person who’s the administrator and just ask that you approve access. It’s very quick. And just know that even if you are joining to be a part of a school or district and your request hasn’t been viewed or approved yet, it will just go ahead and put you right in an individual account. You can see everything SHAPE has to offer from the individual account. So, it’s not like you’ll be prohibited access to SHAPE. You can just go ahead and open your individual account and start playing around in there.
So, this is the homepage as I was just walking you through. And what you want to do, once you would click sign up if it was your very first time, but instead if you have an account, you can go right to log in.
And you can see here that it will bring me to the last place I was in SHAPE, which was basically a district account. This is a demo account that we use, and so this is what it would look like if you’re logging into a school or district. Here’s the overview page, and it tells you about all the different features. You can either click here and it will bring you to the next page, or you can use the toolbar at the top.
So, the School Mental Health Profile is actually something that you can use as a team to really assess what is present in your comprehensive school mental health system. And these are basic things like your students served in data systems that you have present, your staffing, your services, and supports.
You can take the survey here. And you see, this is actually showing me a survey that’s already been taken. You can come back and update this at any point in time. Some people like to answer these questions dynamically as a team, all sitting together. Other people like to just actually get a printable version of the whole profile and download it and bring it to a team meeting or answer your questions separately and then bring it back to SHAPE and enter it. So, the PDF that you download is going to be formatted to a Word version, and it’s going to have some more information in here. So, I encourage you to use the printable version which you can, again, get here if you want, or you can just answer them dynamically.
There are additional instructions and, as you fill up each of the three sections, you’ll actually see your yellow house here on the right populate with the yellow triangle showing what your progress is. After you’ve completed the school mental health profile, you can pull a sample report right away, and this will tell you the number of schools in your district, the number of students that are served. This is just returning to you the information that you entered into the system, but it’s doing so in a way that’s a nice kind of put-together report that you can use and you can review what it is that you entered.
And then there’s a little summary here. And I think as Del Norte will mention when they share with you how they’ve used the system, it’s very common for schools and districts to go in as teams and do these self-assessments in SHAPE and feel like, “Wow, this really isn’t everything that we would wish for in our school mental health system.” And that’s a pretty common experience. This is really here as a quality improvement tool to help you assess where you’re at and really prioritize quality improvements, and then make data-driven decisions from there in terms of what you want to tackle.
So, as we continue along this top toolbar, this is the Mental Health Quality Assessment. It works exactly the same way as I just showed you before. The Quality Assessment gets into a little bit more detail about exactly what you have going on at your school or district level in these seven key areas. There’re separated out here so that you can take them piece by piece. A lot of teams like to go in and do one section at a time. If you’re pacing yourself, if you’re only able to get through a couple in one meeting, this is kind of chunked here for you. You can take… Oh, this survey is already taken. So, you can take the survey at any time. And again, you can print it out, fill it out offline and come back, or do it here dynamically.
You can see this gives you a little bit of information about what needs assessment and resource mapping is. This is the format of the questions. Most of them are on this Likert scale from never to always. For example, this one asked, “To what extent did schools in your district use best practices to assess student mental health needs?” And then there’s a list of best practices below that you can reference to kind of inform your decision on this. And you can either go in and folks can enter it separately and then you can pull a summary report of everyone’s responses, or you could come to some consensus decision and have a team lead go in and enter it on behalf of the team. That is entirely up to you. There’s a lot of flexibility that’s built into SHAPE because we know that school mental health teams come in all different shapes and sizes, and you want to have flexibility in how you’re doing these quality assessment and improvement tools. So, I’m just going to go through these questions as though we’re answering them so that you can see what happens at the end.
Okay. It says you’ve completed the survey. Thank you for your response. Lovely. And then when I pull up my summary report, it will generate a report here that I can check out. Now, in this particular case, we have taken each of these before and so it will show you kind of where you scored on each of the different sections. This is kind of your summary page. It would be wonderful actually to see this many in the yellow. Often we see a lot more in this emerging or red zone here, but then it will break it down for you by each section. So you can go in and look and see, “Okay, what did we answer for each one of those questions?” Teams tell us this is really helpful so that they can look and prioritize. If there’s a particular item that they answered that really brought up a lot of conversation for them, or a lot of curiosity, or a lot of momentum or interest in quality improvement, they can kind of use that to say, “Okay, for example, within teaming we’re doing really well having best practices for our meetings, but maybe making database decisions for intervention is a growth area for us. So, let’s use this information as a way to prioritize how we could move forward some more database decisions in our team meetings since it appears that they’re already going quite well.”
At the bottom, I just want to show you that there is this goes through all the sections and it’ll retrieve whatever sections you’ve completed there is a Strategic Planning Guide here for your team. So, if you’ve reviewed all this information and you’re like, “Oh my goodness, I’m not sure where to go next,” please use the Strategic Planning Guide to kind of help you assess where you rated your system on the different domains. Think about the need for change, desire for change, your resources and barriers. And this will guide you through a process to really narrow it down to one domain, and then to have a Strategic Planning Guide to narrow it even further to your quality improvements. So, this is there for you as a resource if it’s useful.
And then I just want to highlight a couple of other features here on SHAPE, and then we can stop, and I’ll make sure we have some time for questions, because I noticed there are good questions coming in the chat. So, this is the Resource Library or Resource Center. Remember I gave the example before about teaming in which maybe we want to show up our data-driven decisions? We can use the filter on the left to filter by domain and see the different resources that are available here, and so I encourage you to do that as a way to just kind of poke around. So again, if you go in with an individual account, you’ll see the School Mental Health Profile Assessment, you’ll see the Mental Health Quality Assessment. It’s just that your responses are not going to be linked to a school or district when you answer them. And these other resources like the Resource Library, the Screening Assessment Library, these things are all in your SHAPE account. If you’re in there as an individual account, they just may not necessarily be linked up to your team unless you’re really part of the school or district team. And if everyone, let’s say for this example I’m in the Jefferson United School District, everybody else in my school district that logs into this can see the exact same thing that I see.
All right. You will also see these guides here. These guides, I really do highly recommend the Quality Guides. These were put together by the National Center for School Mental Health and these align exactly with the questions and best practices in there. So, this will actually help you kind of go through if you’re looking for some best practices or some places to start. These Quality Guides are in the Resource Center. And so those can be a nice kind of frontline strategy to go to. There’s also, if you click on Trauma Responsiveness, there’s a Resource Center in here specifically for Trauma Responsiveness. So, if that’s something that you’re interested in, I encourage you to check it out. It actually corresponds with this Trauma Responsive Schools Implementation Assessment [TRSIA] that we developed in partnership with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Treatment Services and Adaptation Center for Hope and Resilience in Schools it’s a really long name. But they wanted to put together an implementation assessment that was really focused specifically on how to have a trauma responsive school system in a very comprehensive way. So, it works in terms of completing the different sections of the TRSIA, pulling the reports, and looking at those summary reports. It works exactly the same way as the Quality Assessment and the School Mental Health Profile that I showed you. It’s just that the domains and questions are different. So again, as you come in here into the SHAPE System, whether it’s as a member of a team or individually, these are just resources that are at your disposal, and it’s really for you to decide: Where would you like to start? What’s going to be aligned with what your needs are for your assessment tools that you need in quality improvement?
I skipped over the Screening and Assessment library. This is just a fun resource that you can come in and poke around for free or low-cost screening and assessment tools in case that’s something that you’re interested in. At the National Center, we were getting a lot of requests and still do get a lot of requests for free validated assessment tools that can be used for student mental health screening or progress monitoring. And so, we actually just built it into a Screening and Assessment Library here. So, you can sort and search on a variety of different things. So, let’s say you’re working with a Spanish-speaking family and you want to find something for anxiety. You can collect those two and it will return measures that meet those criteria. You can open up the PDF, and this is something that the centers put together based on our review and coding of what’s available on each measure, so it just overviews the measure that you might be interested in. You can have links right here to access the measures and then there’s a little bit of scoring information on the back. So, if one of your roles is to explore screening and assessment tools for students, this might be a nice resource that hopefully will save you some Google searching and maybe can help you narrow your search.
If you are in a district account, you will have a My Schools tab, so you can look at the different schools that are in the SHAPE System and their status in terms of how much they’ve engaged with SHAPE. So, blue star status means they’ve completed the SHAPE registration and they’ve opened their account. If you have a school that has done the quality report and their data sharing is enabled, you can view their quality report right here. As a district team member, you can also pull a district-wide report for the School Mental Health Quality Assessment or the TRSIA, and you’ll always see there’s star certificates in here. So, this will retrieve kind of what level of SHAPE engagement you have at the district level. But you can also look at that star status for the schools who you’re working with.
And then this is the My District Account tab. If you’re in a school’s team, it’ll say My School Account. And so this shows…. If you had any pending requests, for example, from community partners who want to be added, you would see that here. You can see who your district administrators are and add anyone new you need as well as your district team members. And if you need to adjust any permissions, you can do that here. So, people can go and sign up and ask to be added to a SHAPE account, or you can send them an email directly from this account. So, let’s say you’re already in there. And you’re like, “You know what? I know my two or three people that I would like to invite to be a part of this process with me.” Maybe you’re the person that opened up the SHAPE account in the first place. You would go to this Account tab here and you would just invite people directly by adding them and their email address.
I do want to mention that you may wear a lot of different hats and I find that in school mental health, we all do. So, if you happen to be working in more than one school, or if you happen to have a role at the district level but you’re working closely with the school, or maybe there’s another entity that you’re a part of, or you’re a state leader, you can go to the My Account tab and you can actually have access to as many different SHAPE accounts as make sense for your role. So, you can go to the My Account tab and kind of switch in and out. So, for example, we were just in Jefferson United, but if I wanted to see what’s happening over at Lincoln Elementary, and I want to put my Lincoln Elementary hat on, I can go there and see what’s happening there as well. So, you can see this as an example of his school account. Okay. So, with that, I’ve been talking a lot. I want to pause and make sure that we have a few minutes for questions, and I’ll keep SHAPE open so that I can kind of drive around in SHAPE to answer questions as needed.
Natalie Romer: Thank you, Elizabeth. That was a lot of great information. And as you saw, we had many questions coming in. Some of them were clarifying, so, I was thinking maybe we’d start with the ones that lend themselves a little bit more to an overview or discussion, and maybe then the more technical ones you can respond to directly in the Q&A.
Elizabeth Connors: Yes, absolutely.
Natalie Romer: Okay, great. So, the one technical one I did want to touch on was the question related to access at the county office level, given the structure here in California and any thoughts or suggestions around that.
Elizabeth Connors: Yeah, exactly. So, you can decide if it makes sense if your county, if any entity that you’re a part of, is not already in the SHAPE System when you go to sign up because when you select school or district, it’s going to give you a dropdown of populated school and district names that come from actually a Department of Ed website. So, if for any reason you don’t see your school or your district or your entity is a little bit different. Let’s say you’re county office, we also have like some regional groupings, feel free to reach out to us directly, and we can create an entity account for you. This happens sometimes with charter school organizations, for example. They might have their own kind of charter entity and then other schools, they need to be nested within that. So, the best thing to do about that would just be to contact us at the bottom here, and it will come right to the National Center and someone will consult with you and figure out exactly what the best thing to do is.
Natalie Romer: Great. Thank you for that. And we also had a question about how the different tiers of support are defined within the system and basically how are those defined given that there’s such variability in the field. And sometimes it’s pretty contextual.
Elizabeth Connors: Yeah. Good question. Before I answer that, I realized I clicked on the wrong thing before. See on the very bottom where it says Contact Us? That’s going to take you to three C contact. You want to click this one, you see this yellow contact that’s still within the toolbar? If you want to ask us a question about SHAPE, or you need something updated, this is where you go. Sorry. I just want to make sure to show everybody this. So, if you had any other questions, this is where you would put it.
So, in regards to definitions for tier one, two, and three, those are actually embedded directly in the quality assessment, so it gives you a place to start. There are kind of local differences in terms of how people define those tiers and so we encourage you to use that as a talking point if it needs to be customized for your locale. If you pull a printable version I just went to the Quality Assessment if you pull a printable version and you go to the domains that are tier one, two, and three, it will actually start you out with an operational definition there. So, I encourage you to check that out and see if that sort of makes sense for you. We get a lot of questions for this around tier two, for example, right? But let me scroll down here and show you an example. So, there’s a definition here of how we define tier one and then examples of types of tier one activities or supports or services.
Natalie Romer: Okay, great. And we also had a question about linking back to school climate and mental health and some of the California districts, or many, are participating in this California’s State School Climate Survey and if you can pull that data in. And I guess I’ll expand that question to also include other types of school data, whether it’s screening or other things that they might be interested in looking at.
Elizabeth Connors: That’s a really good question. So, SHAPE is not going to interface with any of your existing data systems, nor does it ask that you upload any of your other data systems to complete the self-assessments and prioritize things. However, you’ll notice from the questions that you’ll need to access other types of data systems and materials to be able to answer the questions. So, actually the first one we have here is, the very first tier one question is actually about “To what extent did your school use best practices to assess school climate?” And so you may be reviewing those school climate data or thinking about where you are with that process, reviewing these best practices, and then the team rates where they feel like they stand in terms of assessing school climate. But there’s not like a way to kind of upload other data or information into SHAPE, if that makes sense, and that’s in part, well, one for complexity reasons, but also for privacy reasons. And our stakeholders have told us over time that they actually don’t prefer that SHAPE interfaces or integrates with other school data systems just because it can create some privacy issues.
Natalie Romer: That makes a lot of sense. And in terms of using the SHAPE System itself to monitor over time, what does it look like when teams complete the measure multiple times and want to look at pre-post or even just progress over several years as they move through that continuous improvement process?
Elizabeth Connors: That’s a great question. So, you can pull your sample report for any snapshot in time that you want. SHAPE does not currently have a report that will put all of your data next to one another as points in time, if that makes sense, but you can update your reporting period at any point on here. So, let’s say you’ve done all the sections of the Quality Assessment and you’re coming into a new school year. You want to change your reporting period here. You would update it and then you would be able to input new data for each of these sections. And so, if you are an administrator on the account, you will have some options here where you can pull either a summary report for all reporting periods, or if you want to pull certain reporting periods, and then you can look at them side by side. So, you can look at where are your mental health quality domains now as compared to last year.
Natalie Romer: Great. And I think we have time for one more question.
Elizabeth Connors: Okay.
Natalie Romer: And I’m going to focus on the one that asks about training opportunities. I know you talked about some of the resources, so I think the follow-up question there is, are there training opportunities built into the system?
Elizabeth Connors: So, I wonder if that’s about training opportunities for like school mental health trainings for people that are doing these assessments and realizing maybe they need more training in school mental health, or training on how to use SHAPE?
Natalie Romer: That is a great clarifying question. If you posted the question and would like to speak to that, but I’d say in the meantime, Dr. Connors if you have any thoughts on either in the meantime….
Elizabeth Connors: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, if you want more information on SHAPE itself, sharing SHAPE with other people, doing demonstration videos, you can go to this site. There’s a lot of demos on how to use SHAPE and how to share SHAPE, including informational flyers, recruitment letters for districts or states, and more information about the SHAPE System here, including all the Quality Guides and even a tool that describes how SHAPE aligns with other tools and frameworks, like the TFI and other frameworks that are out there. For more information on training about comprehensive school mental health, I would say that’s really something that we promote very widely at the National Center for School Mental Health. We’re always offering different training opportunities. One of the best places is probably the Best Practice Guidance Modules that has been funded by SAMSA and hosted by the MHTTC Network.
And as soon as I hop off as Del Norte joins, I’ll put that in the chat because we did create 45-minute modules that actually walk you through each of the sections of the Quality Assessment and talk through some tips and best practices and resources for each section. So if you had an interest to do a deeper dive in teaming, for example, you could look at those materials and use it as training materials on that topic. So, I’ll drop that in the chat.
Natalie Romer: That’s great. And the question was training on the SHAPE System. So, you answered that as well as pointed all of us to the other excellent resources on the Center for School Mental Health website. So thank you for that. And looking at the time, I’m going to suggest that we transition to Del Norte.
Okay. So, next we have Lisa Howard and Nick La Fazio joining us from Del Norte Unified School District and the County Office of Ed to share their experience with the SHAPE System. Lisa Howard has been the district’s MTSS coordinator for the last five years, working on supporting the academic, behavioral, and social emotional education of zero to 22-year-olds in Del Norte County. She’s also the grant leader for Quality Counts California and Universal Preschool Grants, Learning Communities for Schools Success Program, Mental Health and Training Grant, Cal-Well Grant, and most recently the Community Schools Planning Grant. Nick La Fazio is the Special Education Program Specialist and the district coordinator for Project Cal-Well. Thank you both so much for being here today.
Nick La Fazio: Thank you. Perfect. So, I’m going to start us off with a little bit of who we are and how we got involved with SHAPE. And just because I see this popping up quite a bit here, SHAPE is free, and that was the big sell for me. So, I see that in the comments. And so, what happened was we got this grant in 2018, Cal-Well, Project Cal-Well. I was just peeling off from the MTSS team at that time as the behavior side of the house, and we had been working with the SWIFT Center and a lot of the resources that are embedded with MTSS through their national technical assistance. And I was thinking there has to be a system to track all of these things in that same kind of order and make my life easier. And so, that’s when I started searching and I found SHAPE through the University of Maryland, and that’s how we really got started.
I just went in as easy as it was shown by Dr. Connors. I just put in our information, our demographics, those little pieces that we needed, and we were off and running. So, Del Norte County, we’re a small rural county in Northern California, way Northern California. Most people think of the Bay Area, Sacramento and call that Northern. We’re about 300 miles further than that, so we have to do a lot of things on our own and not expect to get much support and help. We have a higher crime rate because of that isolation. We are one of the… I think the third highest at the time of writing this grant. And our ACEs scores on average, about 23% of our adults have three or more ACEs, which is… when you look at California, the average at the time was about 11% of adults. So, we have a prison here because of that isolation, that’s why it was chosen. We had economic crisis as logging and fishing ended, more people were unemployed, more things were going on. So, the reason we are getting these grants is because of a lot of that picture there, and I just wanted to give everybody that image of where we’re at. And so, because of that, we really dove into SHAPE and started looking at the resources that we need to have for our students and our kids and their families here in this area. And so, this is going to dive into a little bit of that, but right now I’m going to kick it back over to Lisa and let her kind of explain where we are currently with our resources.
Lisa Howard: So, we use our MTSS model to organize in-school and out-of-school referral services for children, and we often hear from teachers that they don’t believe that there are a lot of services available for students. So, we first mapped out in our county… all of the little dials that you see there are the emblems for each one of the resources that support mental health within our community, either for families or children, in addition to what we had within schools. And we are lucky enough this year that our first year to integrate therapists on site, thanks to Two Feathers in conjunction with the Yurok Tribe. So, we are very lucky that they have been sending us two therapists a week to be able to do one-on-ones in group therapy. And you can see from our numbers below that just tracking our 51/50s through behavioral health department, that in 2020-21, we had 11 children in the September through April period, whereas this year we’ve already seen 17, so we’re up 50% more. And our need definitely for suicide ideation and attempts is higher within our three general populations of LGBTQ, indigenous, and Hmong students, so we have a high need there.
One of the things we needed to do was align all of these great new mental health dollars within our system. And you can see all of the different sources and how long we have funding for. How do you mesh these incredible amounts of monies dedicated for mental health in a way that ensures effective use of dollars to produce the outcomes we’re looking for and establish school-based mental health systems? So, we were looking for basically a way to structure this so that everyone in the county and systemically students, no matter which school they attended, would be able to find the services that they needed, either within our schools or in our county, for mental health support. You can see that there is at the district level basically a strategic plan allows us to have a common vision, goals, and objectives, whereas at a school, they can start to integrate a strategic plan and those goals and objectives into their SPSA. And then for staff and students and families, again, it’s that transparency so that they can understand how their children would be supported within a school setting. So again, making it very clear to all stakeholders, and having the school board recognize it, was super important to us for establishing a mental health strategic plan. So, initially we started with the committee, and you can see it was a multidisciplinary team. We used our equity lens because we wanted to be sure that students with the highest needs were being represented and that the county office of ed staff that are listed here these are our best advocates for students of high needs, and they are way motivated and excited about the work and were asked to participate and come to the table. So, I’m going to turn it back to Nick.
Nick La Fazio: So, this is a snapshot of our mental health quality domains and this is why I gave the context that I gave in the beginning and kind of where we’re at. We’re very much establishing resources in this community. We didn’t get any greens like on the example we saw a little earlier, but that’s okay because really this was before we got any funding and we were just jumping off. It’s a really easy-to-use composite score to look at specific areas, and with that, we were already able to make some changes. I won’t say specifics, but we took one screener, realized it wasn’t doing what we wanted it to do, and we were able to purchase a different screener for our students this year and get much better data with that. This whole system leads to conversations that are making meaningful change. We have more counselors, more counseling resources and supports out there than we ever have.
Our next step is taking all this data and, again, just bringing it to the table, having conversations with all of the people that we need to our central office administrators, school board, county partners, the tribes within our county and just building off of where we’re at. So, like I said, we were able to take those reports and make meaningful change already.
Now we’re writing goals currently, and a vision has been created when before that we really had just counseling on site. If you asked somebody in the county, “What do we provide to our students?” They could say, “There’s a counselor here,” but we didn’t necessarily know what that counselor was providing if it was academic, if it was clinical, what it was. So again, these are the people that we are bringing to the table now, and we’re able to jump off with even more meaningful conversations as we move forward.
So again, this is the strategic planning. I think we saw an example of this a little bit ago, but like I said, everything is labeled, everything is put there for us, and it really gives those conversations that we can make a plan and present it to our board, to our administrators, our superintendent, and have areas that we would’ve never really thought of all filled out and thought of. Lisa, did you want to take over?
Lisa Howard: Sure. So, as Nick mentioned, we are basically braiding our student SEL screener with the data that we collected from SHAPE so that we can have an accurate picture. And so again, at every stage we asked, “Who else needs to be included in this process? Whose voices also need to be included?” And so, this week we meet as our community of practice for SEL district-wide, and we’ll have them look at the goals that we have written and give us some feedback. We plan to also roll this to our students, specifically the LGTBQ Club and the International Club, knowing that we have some targeted needs in those areas, and outside agencies. We’re inviting UIHS, behavioral health, the hospital, Open Door clinic, which are the partners that it took a long time to establish those MOUs through Cal-Well and other grants that required them. And by far, the trickiest part is working with the adults, it isn’t the students, as we all know.
So, where we are currently is we are always looking for those volunteers who would like to participate in this work, and that’s how we were able to expand the team over and over again, because people would hear about it and say, “Oh, I’d like to participate in that.” And it’s been just amazing. And so, we will be previewing all of the work that we’ve accomplished with our principals here tomorrow and then the Cop.
So, now what do you do? You take all of this great work, and you basically know that the school site councils, once you have created your strategic plan will take the action plan for your school site for student achievement and continue the work forward. So, you have a strategic plan that basically allows the action to now take place onsite and thrive. And that’s really our hope is that it’s a perfect time so that all stakeholders in your community can see how your mental health work is aligning within and out of schools together.
Natalie Romer: Thank you both. We did have a couple of questions come in. The first one is about your telehealth support. Can you share more about the telehealth support you offer in your school settings?
Nick La Fazio: Currently, we are looking for a new provider for telehealth. We haven’t had as high of a demand, but what we do have right now is a MOU with a partner agency in the community that provides the telehealth supports to our area. So, right now it’s not us, it’s a MOU, but we are looking at how we can establish that and student-based health centers in our schools.
Natalie Romer: Great. And then the other question is related to screening, and I’m going to actually expand the question a little bit, which was “What screening tool did you find works for you?” And I’m going to expand the question to really ask what process did you use to identify the screener as you move through the process as a whole and putting that practice into place?
Nick La Fazio: Yeah, the screener that we originally started with was the SRSS. Please don’t ask me to tell you what that acronym is, I can’t remember it. But it didn’t necessarily fit the need of what we were looking for at the time, and we kind of stumbled through it the first time. So, as Cal-Well came on, a requirement was to have universal screening for our students. That was one that we could build out ourselves, and so we did that. It gave us data, nothing shocking. Counselors knew the students that were being flagged. That it was scarier for teachers they were nervous that the workload was going to blow up and it really didn’t. But it didn’t necessarily meet the need of what we were looking for. So, what we did is, we had been looking at SAEBRS, and so they did a switch. It used to be a paper and pencil screening tool, and Illuminate Education had purchased the rights to do a digital format for that. And so, we moved to that this year. And the reason that we liked that, too, is that it has not just deficits, but strengths as well, embedded into that screening tool. It offers a teacher screening, and then for second and up, it offers a student self-screening, so then you can see comparative data between the student score and the teacher’s point of view. That just gives us even more data to make decisions off of that we found very helpful. But, we didn’t necessarily use the screening tool in SHAPE at the time, because we were already kind of doing it, but when we went back and checked, it did fit that need that we were looking for.
Natalie Romer: Great. Really helpful to hear not just the screeners, but also the considerations as you are making those decisions. I’m also really appreciating how Dr. Connors is linking to information as you’re all sharing the applications and thought process of what this looks like in practice. Okay. I’m just checking if any other questions came through. Otherwise, I think we can move forward into our next steps and winding down.
Okay. So we’d like to thank… Extend a big, big, thank you to all of our speakers for joining us and sharing so much helpful information about the SHAPE System, its application to teams to inform quality improvement, to build comprehensive school mental health systems.