By John Reilly and Christopher Leonard
Over the past few years Sage Day has helped several school districts enhance their programs by providing embedded therapeutic services in their schools. The results have been consistently successful. Each district that has implemented our in-district services has dramatically increased the number of students who can be maintained in district. Through the early intervention provided by these services we have been able to identify and begin therapy with students at their first signs of difficulties, and for some have prevented the need to be classified.
Under the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), public schools are required to provide students with a free and appropriate education in the environment that is least–restrictive, or as close to the mainstream environment as possible. For many students with emotional needs, the mainstream environment does not provide sufficient support to be truly least restrictive and may even be experienced by some students as more restrictive. In contrast, a truly least restrictive environment allows the right intervention for each student’s need at a given time. Accordingly, some students may require in-district supportive therapy while others may need placement in a therapeutic school. Our in-district services provide ongoing evaluation of student needs and provides proper intervention options designed to meet each student’s level of need. Students are able to increase or decrease their level of care depending on their progress. For example, a school district that offers supportive therapeutic services in its own buildings, can provide a safe and secure transition for students who are in an out-of-district placement and ready to transition back to district. By providing counseling from well-trained therapists, these services consistently ease the transition back to school while supporting students in making new gains in the mainstream social and academic environment.
Our Sage Certified Clinicians™ have also been successful in using a multi-staged, step-down approach helping students on home instruction due to emotional issues such as panic attacks, depression and school avoidance return to school. Sage Certified Clinicians™ initially meet the student in less threatening public locations or at the school facilities after school hours. This dramatically lowers the anxiety of the students and allows a therapeutic relationship to develop which offers a bridge from home to school. Furthermore, this type of early intervention can frequently prevent an escalation of problems and reduce the need for out-of-district placement.
Sage Day is committed to providing districts and students with programs and interventions that will help each student reach his or her potential in an environment that is truly least restrictive. By offering services on a progressive continuum Sage Day and school districts work together to provide the most effective and transformational interventions to our students.