Student Assistance Program
Being a teenager can be stressful.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires the formation and function of student assistance programs in all public schools. The primary goal of East Pennsboro Area High School’s program, PAWS (Panthers Always Want Success), is to provide the support necessary to promote students’ achievement and success.
What is the PAWS Program?
PAWS is a confidential and voluntary program aimed at assisting students who are faced with barriers to learning. Such challenges may include, but are not limited to, family problems, eating and/or sleeping difficulties, hostility/anger, peer conflict, depression, pregnancy, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, anxiety/fears, and drug/alcohol use. The core of the program is a professionally trained team, including school staff and liaisons from community mental health and drug & alcohol agencies. PAWS team members are trained to identify problems, to determine whether or not the presenting problems lie within the responsibility of the school, and to make recommendations to assist students and parents. When problems lie beyond the scope of the school, the PAWS team can help parents and students to access services within the community. PAWS team members do not diagnose, treat, or refer to treatment, but they may refer students for screening or assessment for treatment. PAWS follows state-mandated guidelines for student assistance programs.
How Does My Child Become Involved in the Program?
If you would like to refer your child or another student for whom you have some concern, referrals can be made by calling a school counselor, completing a referral form in the high school’s main office, or requesting a referral form be sent to you by a team member. Referrals can be made by anyone, including peers, teachers, parents, coaches, community members, or by students themselves. Referral sources remain anonymous. Referrals are confidential, being discussed only within the PAWS team.
If your child has been referred, someone cares about your child and has some concerns regarding changes he/she may have noticed. Perhaps a teacher or friend has noticed changes in behavior or habits that you may or may not have noticed at home. Maybe your child has approached someone about a problem he/she is trying to solve. Regardless of the referral reason or source, the PAWS team will contact you.
How Does the Team Determine if PAWS Involvement is Appropriate?
The PAWS team reviews all referrals. We gather current academic performance reports and observable behavior information from the student’s teachers. All information is kept confidential. The team then decides whether the referral is appropriate for PAWS. If the referral is accepted, a team member will contact the parent for permission to have the student participate in the process. Signed parent permission is required in order for a student to be involved in PAWS.
If permitted, the PAWS team will begin to work with the parent and student. If more information is needed before making a decision, please let your PAWS team know. If a parent/guardian does not sign the permission form, the PAWS team will not become further involved. Participation is voluntary.
What Happens After I Give My Permission?
The team will take several steps after receiving a signed parent/guardian permission form:
A PAWS team member will be assigned as a case manager for the student. He/She will talk with you either in person or over the phone about your observations, your child’s strengths, and your concerns. You will also be asked to complete a Parent Checklist to detail your observations.
The student will then meet with the case manager to discuss the noted concerns. The student will be asked to participate in the program and to sign permission and release forms. If the student does not agree to participate, the PAWS team will not become further involved. Again, participation is voluntary. If he/she does agree, a Student Checklist will be completed. The case manager will then talk with your child to determine the concerns of importance and determine what steps could be taken next.
Together, the student, parent, and PAWS team will develop a plan of action to help your child achieve success in school. The plan might include services and activities in school and/or services from a community agency. If necessary, the PAWS team will talk with you about services in the community and provide information on how to contact others who may be able to help.
The PAWS team will continue to work with and support your child. They will monitor your child’s progress and success in school. Your continued involvement is welcome as your child progresses.
- Sudden drop in grades or change in study habits
- Withdrawing from family, friends and/or school
- Changing friends; no longer spending time with old friends
- Unexplained physical injuries
- Talking, writing, or drawing in relation to suicide
- Defying authority, both at home and at school
- Acting aggressively
- Needing money without an explanation
- Experimenting with drugs or alcohol
- Death of a loved one
- Divorce of parents
- Family relocation
- Relationship problems
- Other traumatic events
If your child is having trouble in or out of school, the PAWS team can help.