THE INTENSIFICATION OF EXISTING SERVICES (TIES) PROJECT (2005-2013)
The TIES project focuses on providing additional and targeted supports to a particular school for a period of time. The services provided included academic remediation, family support, and creative therapy interventions. TIES has been implemented in selected FSSTT schools for a period of one school year. Schools that have been involved include Thorndale Elementary, Purcell Academy, Riverview Elementary, St. Lawrence Elementary Junior and Senior Campuses, Orchard Elementary and Springdale Elementary.
WHO IS THE FSSTT?
The inter-disciplinary team consists of a Child Development Specialist, three Behavioural Consultants, an Art Therapist, a Drama/Dance Therapist, a Youth Outreach Consultant, as well as the part-time services of a psychiatrist, psychiatric consultant and psychologist.
A full-time FSSTT Technician works in each of the 18 schools as a member of the school resource team and is supported by the inter-disciplinary team described above.
The philosophy underlying the team’s approach is to consider all who are involved in the referred student’s life to be a contributing member and part of the intervention plan. Thus, administrators, classroom teachers, resource teachers and the non-teaching professionals from within the school milieu (e.g. psychologists) and health and social services (e.g. social workers) are also invited to engage in a collaborative problem-solving model to understand the child’s difficulties and create an intervention plan.
WHAT ARE THE INTERVENTIONS?
Interventions take various forms and include:
Ø On site daily pro-active interventions by the FSSTT Technician
Ø Skill development groups
Ø Collaboration with the school’s resource team
Ø Various consultations with the inter-disciplinary team as a whole
Ø Referral for family and/or student psychiatric assessment, where appropriate
Although the FSSTT is affiliated formally with 18 of the LBPSB schools, consultative services are available to other schools within the LBPSB, upon request. Since 1995, over 700 school-based consultations have taken place.
YOUTH OUTREACH SERVICE
In 2012, the Youth Outreach Service became a part of the FSSTT. This service was created to re-engage students at risk of dropping out by providing support to schools, students and families at critical points in their schooling. High school teams identify those students who are not attending school on a regular basis and for whom alternative strategies need to be explored. Thus, the FSSTT Youth Outreach Consultant works with all LBPSB high schools.
Youth Outreach Services can include:
Ø Working with the student and the family to develop and implement a plan to re-engage the student in school
Ø Collaborating with the school team to explore alternative strategies
Ø Acting as a liaison between the student, family and school team
Ø Facilitating successful transitions from one school or program, to another
Ø Collaborating with community partners to provide additional support services to students and their families, as required
The Youth Outreach Consultant also works in close collaboration with the Continuing Education Transition Consultant in order to ensure a successful transition for students from the Youth to the Adult sector.
WHAT FEEDBACK HAS THERE BEEN?
The FSSTT has been in operation since 1995. In the beginning years, each person (teacher, administrator, family, FSSTT team member) who was involved in the pilot project was asked to provide feedback and recommendations. This feedback was reviewed, and many positive suggestions for improvement were implemented.
More recently, the FSSTT was included in the national School-Based Mental Health and Substance Abuse (SBMHSA) Project, an initiative launched by a consortium of partners associated with The Ontario Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). The CHEO team collected examples of best practices of school-based mental health initiatives in place across Canada and the FSSTT was included in this list.
In 2014, the FSSTT was recognized by the Quebec English School Boards Association with an Excellence in Education award. This award celebrated the work that the FSSTT accomplished in bridging public education and the community.
The effectiveness of the FSSTT model as a means of supporting inclusive practices for children with emotional and behavioral needs has been extensively investigated by researchers at McGill University, Montreal Children’s Hospital, Concordia University, and the LBPSB. A series of research grants offered by the Ministry of Education and other granting agencies have enabled these researchers to study the impact of the FSSTT services on community schools. The results of these studies have been presented at local, national and international conferences, as well as published in academic journals. A list of these publications is available, upon request.
Professional development is the cornerstone of the FSSTT’s approach. Every consultation about a student is viewed as an opportunity to learn about the nature of the child’s difficulties and develop interventions that focus on finding the strengths in the child, family and school that can enhance the child’s development. Present models of professional development include:
FSSTT Lecture Series
Since 1996, the FSSTT has hosted an evening Lecture Series on children’s mental health which is open to all staff of the Lester B. Pearson School Board. To date, over 80 presentations have been given by psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals on an array of topics which have included disorders such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addictions, and post-traumatic stress, as well as prevention and resilience-building. These lectures are well-attended and survey data collected after each lecture indicate this is a valued form of professional development.
Since 2003, the FSSTT has produced a bilingual newsletter, Connections/Branchez-vous, that is distributed several times a year to all teachers and staff of the LBPSB. Each edition focuses on various topics relating to social emotional learning and also serves as a resource for mental health activities and initiatives.
Internship in Child Psychiatry
From the inception of the FSSTT, the Montreal Children’s Hospital’s (MCH) Psychiatry Department has offered an internship opportunity to FSSTT Technicians working for the LBPSB. Over the course of a school year, these paraprofessionals complete a one day a week placement as a member of a child psychiatry team at the MCH. The intern gains experience in observing and participating in family psychiatric assessments, which also serves to enhance understanding of the health services network at the school level.
Workshops for Educators
Team members have provided numerous professional development sessions to teachers, daycare educators, integration aides and technicians on a variety of topics related to youth mental health. While most of this professional development has been conducted within the LBPSB, the FSSTT has also presented at conferences involving other school board personnel as well as at local universities such as McGill and Concordia.
The FSSTT was recognized for its contribution to the school board and their communities by the Quebec English School Boards Association. The Award of Excellence was presented to the FSSTT in the category of Community Engagement, in May 2014.
Updated: July, 2015