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SSWNetwork Forum: How Are SSW Making SEL Work In MTSS?

SSWNetwork Forum:  How Are SSW Making SEL Work In MTSS?

Hello SSWN friends:  This project has been in the works here at SSWN and our SSWNetwork for a while now, and I’m so excited to share more of it with you today.  Starting in December and into 2020, all of our current Loyola School Mental Health Advanced Practice Program (SMHAPP) students will be “hosting” a week on our site, sharing information about their SMHAPP project work and responding to critical issues impacting K-12 schools and school mental health practice.  

As we move into our first week of 2020, it’s week #4 of our SMHAPP SSWNetwork Takeover! This week I’m thrilled to welcome Kara Kroculick and Jennifer Ferguson, members of the 4th Loyola SMHAPP cohort, who will be leading discussion and sharing resources about the topic of SEL and MTSS, and how school social workers are designing and implementing SEL interventions across the 3 tiers of MTSS .  Just as we’ve done before, Kara and Jennifer will help us end the week over at SSWNetwork with a LiveChat January 18th from 9 a.m.-10 a.m. central time where we’ll come together to discuss what we learned over the past week. Here in their own words is what they’re going to be doing this week in this “SMHAPP SSWNetwork Takeover,” along with their biographical information.  Take it away, Kara and Jennifer, and we hope to see all of you on Saturday morning for our LiveChat!

Trekking in the himalayan ranges, once we came across the region of Grahan which has this remote village wherein these kids were the locals enjoying outside their small wooden wall school. They reminded us of the childhood memories of ours which we had with our besties.
Photographer: Aman Shrivastava | Source: Unsplash

TOPIC STATEMENT: Making SEL Work Within Your School’s MTSS Framework

This week we will discuss supporting student’s social emotional needs in a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), how and what data is used to identify students requiring additional support for increasingly intensive intervention based on need. Throughout the week, questions, ideas, and links will be posted on our SSWNetwork, and we invite you to join us there (it’s always free to join, and there are 2,200 of us there now).


Monday, January 13th

Question: How are students identified and referred for social emotional supports in your district?

Are there specific screeners used?

Criteria for tiers? What data points are used to inform decisions?

(Sample of a resource we’ll discuss this week, from Loudon County, VA MTSS Department)

Wednesday, January 15th

Question: At your grade level, what interventions are used at each tier to support student’s social and emotional learning?

Are there specific curriculums, supports, interventions your have experience with?

How long does a student receive an intervention prior to being progress monitored and a decision being made regarding appropriateness and effectiveness of the intervention?

Friday, January 17th

Question: In your district, how are school social workers utilized in the MTSS process?

Saturday, January 18th

SSWNetwork LiveChat 9-10am

Hi! My name is Jennifer Ferguson. I have been married to my husband for 15 years this coming July. We have a 3 year old son. We also have 3 dogs, and a cat so you can imagine our house is a “zoo.” We just got a 3 month old labradoodle over break that we named Ozzie that I’m hoping will join me next year at school as a therapy dog. I got my Bachelors of Art (major psych, minor Sociology) at Eastern Illinois University in 2006. I worked as a substance abuse counselor after that, and am a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC). I initially went back to get my MSW at St Ambrose University so I could learn more about Mental Health since so many of my SUD clients had mental health concerns as well. During my 2nd year in grad school I decided I wanted to work with children. So in 2011 I graduated with my MSW with specialization in SSW. It took me 3 years to find a job in education, but in 2014 I finally landed my 1st job in education. In 2015 I got my LCSW, and utilize it by working at our county jail as a Mental Health Counselor. I absolutely love working with children and could never imagine going back to working with adults full time. This is my 3rd year working at my current district, I work in 3 different schools working with kiddos transitioning from Early Intervention to pre-k and  pre-k to 5th graders. I also am on out schools Autism Team and help administer the ADOS with our team. For my SMHAPP project I am focusing on the MTSS process (screenings, how to choose students who participate in Tier 2, 3, interventions for those Tiers etc).

Kara Kroculick, LCSW is a school social worker at West Chicago Community High School. She earned her MSW from Jane Addams School of Social Work at UIC in 2014. Following graduation, she worked in East Aurora School District 131 for three years prior to starting in West Chicago. She enjoys working with students, families, and in the community. She has experience working with students with significant emotional and behavioral needs. She frequently utilizes brief solution-focused and motivational interviewing in her interventions with students and draws heavily from CBT and DBT. When not at school, Kara enjoys teaching and practicing aerial, baking, and playing with her shih-tzu, Mowgli.

About The Author

Michael Kelly

Michael S. Kelly PhD, LCSW is the Lucian and Carol Welch Matusak Professor and Director of the School Mental Health Advanced Practice certificate and Family and School Partnerships Program at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Social Work. Prior to coming to Loyola in Fall 2006, he was a school social worker, family therapist, and youth minister in the Chicago area for 14 years. He has authored over 80 journal articles, books, and book chapters on school social work, evidence-based practice (EBP), and positive youth development. He is a fellow of the Oxford Symposium for School-Based Family Counseling, co-Chair of the Society for Social Work & Research SSW Special Interest Group, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of School Social Work, and Associate Editor of School Mental Health. He has recently brought his work on school mental health and EBP to researchers and practitioners in England, Rhode Island, Wyoming, Canada, Chile, and Japan.

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