On-site counseling services are now being offered at Columbia County Schools.
The school system works with Transitional Family Services. They provide license professionals to come to the schools to work with the students.
Socio-Economic Services Coordinator, Rachel Czerepak, says, “I mean we get anywhere from four to seven referrals every day from schools all over the county.”
With mental health starting in students at a younger age, Columbia County saw the need to step in and provide a service otherwise difficult for some families to navigate.
Czerepak says students start as young as pre-k all the way to seniors in high school.
Here’s how it works: a student is identified through referral from the school guidance office. Then, the school counselor has a conversation with the student. They find out what’s going on, give the parents a heads up, and if the parent is accepting of the program, they’ll get a consent form. The form allows the licensed professional coming from Transitional Family Services to meet with the student.
“Our program allows for the student to get the services at the school, and it also helps the family pay for the services if the family wouldn’t be able to pay for it through insurance or other means,” says Czerepak.
Families in need can be fully insured with federal funding for up to 20 sessions.
The program started the middle of last year. This year, they just signed on a play therapist.
“Play therapy is more appropriate for some of our special-ed students who are non verbal, or maybe for our really young four- or five-year-old students who maybe have experienced trauma.”
As for the program’s success, it’s too early to tell.
“We gather: what are they starting with? How many absences do they have right now? Discipline issues, academics, how many courses are they failing,” says Czerepak. “With the intention of their course of treatment, we look at whats their attendance? What’s their discipline? What’s their behavior? But it hasn’t been long enough at that point to really measure that yet.”
If you would like more information about this program, you can CLICK HERE.