The School and Family Consultants assist school staff and parents/guardians to support children who are experiencing social, emotional and/or behavioural difficulties that affect their educational performance.
Behaviour is a form of communication that is purposeful and needs-driven. Although a child’s misbehaviour can elicit frustration from caregivers, the misbehavior is a symptom, not the problem to be solved. The process of discovering the underlying cause(s) for behavioural (social/emotional) difficulties is complex and is best served by a team-based, collaborative approach.
Students can experience behaviour, social/emotional, or mental health problems that range from mild to serious. Most students with social/emotional difficulties can be supported in school through regular discipline and school-based services. A smaller number of students require more intensive support.
Students who require behaviour supports are students whose behaviours or mental state reflect dysfunctional interactions between the student and one or more elements of the environment, including the classroom, school, family, peers and community. These students are referred to by the Ministry of Education as students who require Moderate or Intensive Behaviour Support or Students with Mental Illness (Categories R and H). Their behaviours vary in their severity and frequency and effect learning, interpersonal relations and personal adjustment.
The School and Family Consultant provides behaviour consulting, short term counseling, assessment and other intervention support to students, parents and school personnel.
The primary mandate of the School and Family Consultant has been, and will continue to be, the provision of intensive support to elementary students with behavioural and/or mental health issues. The School and Family Consultants are available for periodic consultation on an as available basis to the secondary schools.
The School and Family Consultant is available to provide counseling support in both the elementary and secondary schools where a critical incident has occurred (e.g. a death in the school or in the family).
The School and Family Consultant is available to support schools in responding to suicide attempts or to provide support when the principal initiates Stage One of a Violence Threat Risk Assessment.
Other specific areas of responsibility include the following:
The process of identification and assessment of students who require moderate or intensive behaviour support sometimes begins at the classroom level, although these students are often identified in the community by mental health professionals. To be identified in these categories, the behaviours in question should be ongoing and generalize to different settings and across time and individuals.
Key elements in helping to determine underlying causes include the following:
When teachers first notice a problem, they will consult with the parents and attempt alternate strategies to manage the behaviour or support the student in the classroom. The School and Family Consultant is also available for a brief consultation at this stage with either the teacher or the parent.
When further support is needed to address the behaviour or mental health concerns of the student, the school-based team may choose to access more extensive support from the School and Family Consultant and other District Support Staff at an External School Based Team Meeting.
If support from the District School and Family Consultant is requested, an External School Based Team meeting is arranged by the Learning Assistant Resource Teacher (LART). It is helpful if information from the school based team is available including a file review, any data collected and previous strategies attempted. It may also be appropriate at this stage to involve the Behaviour Resource Teacher, the family’s physician, Child and Youth Mental Health Services, or other community agencies in the identification and intervention process.