Helping School Clinicians Become Leaders: A 4-Year Midwest PBIS/Loyola SMHAPP Partnership Project
As social-emotional-behavioral needs of students increase, so does the need for for preventative practices and early access to targeted and intensive interventions. The shift is in making mental wellness for all a whole school priority and part of everyone’s job, not just the clinicians. The 3-tiered MTSS prevention framework is an efficient and effective way to organize clinicians’ work to support meeting increasing needs and shifting staff responsibility; however, we hear that clinicians are overwhelmed and struggling.
The changing role of the school mental health (SMH) clinician is an urgent issue, as we see increased mental health needs in our schools, and a need for more prevention work to get to kids earlier–still, SMH clinicians tell us that they are overwhelmed and struggle to implement EBP and work effectively within a 3-tier MTSS prevention framework.
Defining What We Mean By School Clinician Leaders
For the past 4 years, in collaboration with the expert educational trainers at Midwest PBIS, we’ve been focusing on identifying some of the key barriers to why so many school clinicians struggle, and what things they might need to become the Clinician Leaders they want to be for their schools. Here’s what we’ve come up with:
- Addressing the real and serious disparity between school clinician workload vs. caseload
- Dealing with the “Crisis About Crisis” in most K-12 settings where school clinicians feel constantly pulled and disrupted to attended to situations that don’t really rise to the level of
- Creating a meaningful and effective job description for school clinicians That truly reflects what they do
- Moving into a leadership role of providing professional development (PD) for their schools, not just organizing or attending PD led by others
(We are going to be building separate articles and webinars around all 4 of these topics over the next few months, and how school clinicians can begin to tackle them, starting with the Workload/Caseload issue later in this article.)
To build the capacity of school clinicians to tackle these 4 areas, we’ve hosted 2-day Clinician Leadership Forums (CLFs) across Illinois for the past three years. These leadership forums brought together over 150 school-based clinicians to make action plans to bring back to their schools and districts.
At each of the CLFs, we’ve followed a similar format of starting with content relevant to school clinicians in Day 1, then supporting clinicians to collaborate and develop an action plan with their administrator on Day 2. The innovative content and interactive delivery kept participants engaged, and from the feedback we’ve gotten, indicate that there is a desire of school clinicians for this kind of professional development. Evaluation responses highlight the time for collaboration, networking and action planning as valuable.
Clinician Leadership Forum Focus Area: Getting the Workload & Caseload Balance Right For School Clinicians
In this 30-minute webinar, we take a critical look at SMH clinician Workload/Caseload, by using strategies building on our training work around the country and this recently published article one of our team (Dr. Kelly) did with our Oakland County (MI) SSW colleague Steven Whitmore, “It’s About Time: Initial Findings From a Feasibility Study of a Time-Study Tool for School Social Workers in Michigan“. Here’s the webinar:
Additionally, here is a recent article I published on a framework we developed to implement in Ontario, CA with all the SSW there, seeking to help build a reasonable and feasible framework for referring, screening, assessing and service delivery (RSASD), including the development of entrance and exit criteria for school mental health services.
This will be the first of 4 articles we post on SSWN this Spring, laying out the rationale of our CLF work and some of the strategies that our school clinician attendees have been utilizing as they become leaders in their schools. We hope to continue the conversation about these articles over at our SSWNetwork social media platform as well, through possible LiveChats and even a professional learning community (PLC) if there’s enough interest. If you’re not on SSWNetwork already, please join here (it’s 100% free to join, always).
- Thinking About Tier 3 Interventions? Consider This….
- A Closer Look at Clinicians in a Multi-Tiered System of Support
- Changing Role of Staff – District Level Discussion Guide
- Changing Role of Staff – School Level Discussion Guide
Midwest PBIS Bios
Sheri Leucking, Director of Programming
Sheri is a committed school social worker with nearly thirty years of experience. She has served in a leadership capacity to support districts in implementing PBIS for twelve years. Sheri leads Midwest PBIS Network in development of Tier II and Tier III. Sheri is passionate about wraparound! Sheri’s big heart and need for efficiency make us a stronger team!
Technical Assistance and Training Director, PBIS Advanced Tiers
Ami’s extended and varied experiences in the field of social work have given her an understanding and deep respect for the role of systems in creating lasting individual and organizational change. Her out of the box thinking to identify and then move beyond perceived obstacles is crucial to the Midwest PBIS Network. Ami is the Illinois Site Director, Lead Trainer and Coach for the National IES random controlled trial for RENEW. Ami is also leading our team in work integrating trauma-informed practices within a multi-tiered system of supports and is a strong advocate for educator self-care.
Technical Assistance Director
Ali’s background in school social work provides the experience and knowledge to support the most vulnerable youth, but her big picture and systems thinking is what allows her work to impact ALL. Her dynamic personality and ability to connect with people make her a crowd pleasing trainer. Ali is a Lead Trainer and Coach for the National IES random control trial for RENEW and leads our team in curriculum development with Tier II, Restorative Practices, and FBA-BIP.
Technical Assistance Director, Mental Health Integration
Katie brings experience with both community and school social work. Her desire to create equal opportunities for all along with her need to be efficient and effective led to her passion to support schools in implementing PBIS. Katie’s current role with the network extends her passion as she facilitates sites to integrate school and mental health systems by enhancing the core features of PBIS through the Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF).