In 2017, Old Bridge Township School District had two key needs when it came to mental health. First, they wanted to return students from out-of-district placements and second, they were experiencing challenges with a high number of students who were school avoidant. Old Bridge partnered with Effective School Solutions to implement programming to address both challenges.
The Challenge at Old Bridge Township
Old Bridge Township School District (OBTSD) is a large school district. Their high school alone consists of ~2,750 students who are spread across two buildings. Navigating school life on such a large campus can be daunting. The staff was aware that students typically begin to experience social-emotional challenges and school avoidance issues when they transition from middle school to high school. These students were often sent to an out-of-district placement (ODP) to receive the support they needed. Another segment of students the district wanted to help consisted of students who were placed in ODPs during middle school. Dr. James Tuohy, the Assistant Superintendent, strongly believed that there was a way to bring students back and support them in their home district’s high school.
The Solution: In-School Wrap-Around Services
To provide the care OBTSD students required while reducing the number of ODPs, OBTSD partnered with Effective School Solutions (ESS).
ESS implemented a Tier 3 “wrap-around” model of care that provided intensive clinical programming to OBTSD throughout the school day. This programming was augmented by strong clinical supervision and risk management services to help ensure that this important population of students was getting the care they needed.
Dr. Tuohy stated, “We couldn’t do this alone. ESS brought extra components to our district. Clinicians are available to talk to students on the phone after school hours, there is family therapy at night. If a student does not show up for school, the clinician goes to pick him/her up. You have to see the ESS program in action to see the impact the clinicians have.”
The impact of ESS was most notable in the reduction of ODPs in the district both through returning students and preventing at-risk students from requiring a placement. In year 1 of the OBTSD ESS partnership, one student returned to the high school and there were 66 students in ODPs. In year 2, two students returned and ODPs were reduced to 57 students. In year 3, four additional students returned. OBTSD also looks at academics, disciplinary incidents, and absences as metrics of success. For the 2019-2020 school year:
- ESS provided clinical services to 46 at-risk students, with 0 students sent to an out-of-district. placement, resulting in 100% retention.
- Only 2 discharged students were placed on home instruction.
- Grades increased by 15%,
- Discipline issues decreased by 70%,
- Absences decreased by 26%.
- Total cost savings for the district: over $4M since the partnership began.