In 2013, Westfield School District was struggling with an increasing number out-of-district placements. Keeping students in district and providing them with the mental health services they needed was a top priority. Westfield partnered with Effective School Solutions to implement clinical programming to address this challenge.
The Challenge at Westfield
The Westfield School District had students that were experiencing significant psychiatric and behavioral issues who needed more intensive therapeutic support. These types of students were being sent to therapeutic out-of-district placements (ODPs). The number of ODPs was increasing year over year. Westfield wanted to keep students in district for them to be able to take advantage of everything the district had to offer, while providing the clinical help their students needed.
The Solution: In-School Tier 3 Wrap-Around Services
Westfield began their partnership with Effective School Solutions (ESS) seven years ago at the elementary and intermediate schools. ESS implemented a Tier 3 “wrap-around” model of care that provided intensive clinical programming throughout the school day. This programming was augmented by strong clinical supervision and risk management services to help ensure that students were getting the care they needed.
At the end of year 1, Westfield and ESS found that the ESS Tier 3 wrap-around program was more appropriate for older students. In year 2, a behavioral disabilities program focused on developing behavior skills was created for the elementary schools. The Tier 3 wrap-around program continued in the intermediate schools and expanded to the high school.
One key differentiator that made ESS stand out was the focus on family/caregiver involvement. ESS involved families and caregivers right at the start. The ESS clinicians communicated what was clinically necessary, taught families/caregivers how to reinforce the ESS program at home, etc. It was a whole student approach. As a result, parents and caregivers were receptive to the clinical recommendations that ESS presented. Family involvement continues to be a key element of the ESS program.
Another component of the ESS program was professional development. ESS trained staff members and parents on how to identify mental health challenges that a student may be experiencing and how to get the help the student needs.
Westfield saw a drastic decrease in students going out-of-district to therapeutic programs since the ESS program was implemented.
For the 2019-2020 school year:
- ESS provided clinical services to 46 at-risk students, with 1 student(s) sent to an out-of-district. placement, resulting in 98% retention.
- Only 1 discharged student(s) was placed on home instruction.
- Grades increased by 15%,
- Discipline issues decreased by 61%,
- Absences decreased by 86%.
- Total cost savings for the district: over $1.6M since the partnership began in 2013.
Another example of success was the collaboration and integration of ESS into the Westfield School District. ESS became part of the Westfield family. Many Westfield staff members didn’t even realize ESS was a third party vendor. Working so closely together, the ESS clinicians, and the Westfield staff came together to help students succeed and flourish!