Who are Student Assistance Specialists?
Student Assistance Specialists (SASs) have expertise in the mental health and substance use field. They have Master’s degrees in Social Work or Counseling and most are licensed by the Virginia Department of Health Professions as Clinical Social Workers, Professional Counselors or Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioners. As members of the Unified Mental Health Team, Student Assistance Specialists support LCPS initiatives that promote student connectedness, enhance student resilience and educate about mental health and substance use issues. We provide educational presentations for students and parents, restorative practices, individualized and group support, referral services, coordination with providers, staff development and consultation with parents and staff.
What do Student Assistance Specialists do?
Student Assistance Specialists provide services and interventions designed to enhance the social, emotional and academic success of students by helping to address the needs of the whole child. The foundation of these interventions is a strength-based service delivery model focusing on developmental assets, risk/protective factors, prevention education and resiliency skill building.
- Substance Use Assessments -interview students who are referred, conduct substance use assessments for at-risk students and make referrals for appropriate schools and community-based services.
- Substance Use Prevention/Intervention Groups -facilitate psycho-educational groups for students concerned about their own use, the use of others close to them or those students who are working on a recovery program.
- Insight Class -facilitate a three day substance use prevention and early intervention class for students who violate the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) alcohol or drug policy. The Insight Class is also open to students on a voluntary basis.
- Tobacco and Other Products Program -available for consultation and training of in-school restriction (ISR) teachers who provide information to students who violate the LCPS policy.
- Classroom presentations -present substance use, bullying/violence prevention, and mental health presentations at secondary level.
- Staff, parent, and community presentations - present current trends, signs and symptoms and prevention strategies regarding substance use, mental health, violence prevention, and available school-based resources.
- Restorative Practices - provide leadership through training, facilitation, and multi-tiered implementation of Restorative Practices. Restorative Practices are a framework for building relationships, taking a proactive approach to managing conflict, and for responding to challenging behavior. LCPS offers restorative conferencing as an option for discipline and as a way to address wrong-doings when students or the school community have been harmed.
- Sources of Strength - provide trainings, presentations, and on-going support to schools implementing this upstream prevention program at the secondary level.
- Crisis Team - provide crisis intervention to affected students and staff following critical incidents and administer Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) to students.