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Community Connections

June 26, 2022
Sunday

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Heather McQueen, Family & Community Engagement Services (FACES) Program Coordinator II

heather.mcqueen@esc2.us     361-561-8440


Featured Resources

Resources in Response to the Robb Elementary School Shooting

In response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde Texas, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed resources to help children, families, educators, and communities navigate what they are seeing and hearing, acknowledge their feelings, and find ways to cope together. These resources include:

 

 

Psychological First Aid

The NCTSN also has resources for responders on Psychological First Aid (PFA; En Español). PFA is an early intervention to support children, adolescents, adults, and families impacted by these types of events. PFA Mobile and the PFA Wallet Card (En Español) provide a quick reminder of the core actions. The PFA online training course is also available on the NCTSN Learning Center.

Additional PFA resources for schools include:

From the National Mass Violence and Victimization Resource Center

 

From the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University

Disaster Helpline

SAMHSA has a Disaster Distress Helpline – call or text 1-800-985-5990 (for Spanish, press “2”) to be connected to a trained counselor 24/7/365.

 

Acts of targeted school violence can increase after a tragedy and before and after holidays. As the school year winds down, it is paramount that we revisit, reinforce, and strengthen our school safety practices and processes. To assist you in the coming days, weeks, and months, the Texas School Safety Center wants to provide you with resources, tools, and points of consideration.

  1. Access Control: Review access control measures with all staff. Only admit people to your building once you have confirmed that they are who they say they are and that they have a legitimate reason to be there. Do not deviate from your policies and procedures. Know that you have the right to deny admittance to your building and call law enforcement immediately if you consider something to be suspicious. This may be a good time to conduct periodic sweeps of the school and check for propped open doors.

  2.  Anonymous Reporting Systems: School safety is a shared responsibility. Remind staff, parents, and students of the importance of reporting all safety concerns, including how to report (for example, through the anonymous reporting system, a trusted adult, or a school administrator.) Research shows that those who wish to do harm to others often tell someone about their plans.

    It is often assumed that “someone else” has reported a concern, or it is believed to be something minor and that it is probably nothing to be concerned about. Empower staff and students to report it anyway, and to never assume that someone else has done so. Telling someone saves lives

  3. Drills and Training Exercises: Review the importance and purpose of drills and exercises with staff, parents, and students. Drills are essential in preparing your school for an emergency, and exercises can help you test and adjust your emergency planning. Drills and exercises offer the opportunity for students and staff to learn their roles and responsibilities before, during, and after any type of emergency. Practice of actions can reduce confusion, panic, and even serious injury for both staff and students when an emergency occurs. The mandatory minimum frequency of drills by type can be found here: https://txssc.txstate.edu/tools/tde-toolkit/drill-requirements.

  4. Multi-hazard Emergency Operations Plan: This is an appropriate time to review your Multi-hazard Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) with staff, specifically intruder protocols, and offsite reunification protocols. The Texas School Safety Center provides a High-Quality Multi-hazard EOP Toolkit on how to develop a high quality and multi-hazard emergency operations plan, and it includes a sample plan.

    We have developed a multi-hazard EOP development course series accessible to the school districts. These courses can be found in the School Safety Learning Portal and assist districts with developing their plans.

    We have also developed an Active Threat Toolkit for districts to complete an Active Threat Annex to their EOP Basic Plan. It contains multiple resources including an Active Threat Annex template and a completion guide to help districts plan through all five phases of Emergency Management. Districts may opt to take this a step further by addressing before, during and after tasks for specific Active Threat incidents in the Appendix templates we provide.

    Be prepared to address your parents and the community. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, many schools took proactive measures with a message or letter home to parents. Wording can be similar to the following:

    The recent tragedies remind us all of the importance of safety and security in schools. We want to assure our families that our district and schools have an updated emergency operations plan that has been created and reviewed in collaboration with local law enforcement. The members of our staff have been trained on the specifics of this plan, and we conduct periodic drills to ensure that everyone knows their role during a crisis. Our district also has specific protocols for entry to our schools, and we appreciate the understanding of our parents as we enforce these protocols for the safety of our children. The safety of our students remains our highest priority.

    Parents may want to learn more about your plan, or even review the plan. Please be aware that your district's emergency operations plan is subject to disclosure regarding certain information as outlined in Texas Education Code, 37.108 (c-2). You should not disclose any details of the plan beyond what is allowed that would compromise the integrity of the plan itself. Be very general when discussing details of your safety plan and cite the previous code as justification.

  5. Trauma-informed Care: The role that schools play in providing critical structure and support for students and families cannot be understated. What you do matters. By recognizing the impact, signs, and symptoms of trauma, integrating trauma-informed approaches into policies, procedures, and practices, and avoiding the re-traumatization of students and staff, schools create an environment in which students and staff can feel safe.

    Texas Education Code 38.036 outlines the requirements for school districts to adopt and integrate trauma-informed practices into schools. Schools are additionally required to include provisions (Texas Education Code 37.108 (f)(2)) to address psychological safety before, during, and after emergencies, which includes active threats, and to include this in their districts multi-hazard emergency operations plan. The Texas School Safety Center is developing a psychological resilience annex template for schools to use, and it will be posted on our website as soon as it is finalized.

  6. Standard Response Protocol and Standard Reunification Method (SRP/SRM): The Texas School Safety Center provides a K-12 Standard Response Protocol Toolkit which offers guidance and resources for incorporating the SRP into the emergency operations plan for critical incident response within individual schools in a district. The SRP (Texas Edition) Toolkit provides flexibility for local decision making by individual schools.

    Further, the Texas School Safety Center provides the K-12 Standard Reunification Method Toolkit. School emergencies may require an evacuation or change in operational schedules of a school, necessitating a well-organized and structured way to reunite students with parents. Reunification plans include district resources and community partners who can offer assistance for families during and after a traumatic event. Coordinating with your local resources is important when planning for these emergencies.The Texas School Safety Center also provides in-person and virtual SRP/SRM Train-the-Trainer trainings. It is open to public ISDs, open-enrollment charter schools, junior colleges, school-based law enforcement, and state agencies that support Texas schools.

  7. School Behavioral Threat Assessment: School Behavioral Threat Assessment is considered a best practice for preventing targeted school violence. There are several school behavioral threat assessment resources available and working with your local resources is key. Training is available for all district and school staff members conducting school behavioral threat assessments, and we offer a School Behavioral Threat Assessment Toolkit.

    Experience has shown there is a "contagion effect" that impacts communities after a highly publicized event such as this. Social media will likely play a role in upcoming incidents, so consider your role in monitoring and addressing this outlet and listening to students reporting concerns. All threats should be taken seriously. We provide Digital Threat Assessment Training which complements SBTA through awareness of the tools and methods to identify online threat related behavior. Remember to use local resources and collaborative partners in law enforcement to investigate.

  8. Social Media: With social media being such an important part of youth’s lives, we need to make extraordinary attempts to reach youth when these major events occur. Youth are apt to look for support and connection with their peers through social media, and often assume that they should be able to cope with things on their own. That means youth have only the level of wisdom of their peers to help see them through these difficult times, and adults and parents may have more difficulty in determining when they need additional support. Even very young children are exposed to news events and social media through friends, peers, and older siblings. This guide, Psychological Impact of the Recent Shooting, provides more information on reactions, consequences, and coping.

  9. Resources for Staff: School staff are exhausted. Acts of targeted school violence, especially with staff shortages and the fallout from the pandemic, can especially exacerbate the mental health and coping skills of school staff. Consider providing lists of providers or programs for staff to utilize as needed, including community mental health providers, substance use providers, the National Suicide Lifeline, programs through their Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), and other community resources. School staff also may be concerned about the mental wellness of their own children, so providing resources for children is also key.

    It can be difficult to determine what resources are available within any specific region of Texas. The Texas School Safety Center developed the Mental Health Resource Toolkit as a starting point for awareness of what is occurring at the state-level and for identifying area resources.

    The National Center for School Safety has also developed a resource Returning to School After a Crisis: A Guide to Addressing Traumatic Events at School. This guide is intended to support staff when returning to school following a crisis and contains information about warning signs that a student is in distress, tips for talking and working with students as they return, and mental health resources.

  10. Resources for Parents: Parents may reach out for resources, and providing them with tips on how to have these important conversations can provide a sense of context and safety for families. The following message and the resource, Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event, can be used with parents:

    As there will continue to be media coverage on these events in the coming days and weeks, it is worth taking a moment to think about the importance of starting the conversation in a way that will invite youth into the conversation and avoid making them defensive.

    One way of doing that is making your child or student "the expert." So instead of mentioning the shooting and asking whether your child or student is anxious, consider framing it as, "There has been some coverage in the news about the recent school shooting. What have you heard?” And then just listen. Sometimes youth will answer “I don’t know” as a quick response to get adults to back off. When we are quiet and give them a moment to think about it and let them know that we really care about their answer, they will often give us answers which provide insight into their thoughts and concerns. We often jump in too quickly to reassure youth, which stops the conversation at that point. What they really want, and need, is for us to listen to them. It is far more effective to ask them to tell us more and come from a “curious” approach rather than giving them a lesson or lecture. Then, engage your child or student in conveying their thoughts about a range of ideas or possible solutions.

    The greatest outcome of these conversations is when we leave youth knowing that we are willing to talk with them about anything and that we want to hear what they have to say. An expression in the crisis response community is "never waste a crisis," and this is your opportunity as well - don't waste this opportunity to connect deeply with your children or students. Setting the stage for more open communication about all kinds of things in the future is key.”

    The Texas School Safety Center has developed A Parent’s Guide to School Safety Toolkit and Cyber Safety and Digital Responsibility: A Parent's Guide for you to use as resources for parents.

Please visit the Texas School Safety Center website for additional information about resources and training

 


Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHAs)

School districts can connect their students, staff, and faculty to mental health resources through their respective Local Mental Health Authority.  Each Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA) provides services to a specific geographic area of the state, called a local service area. The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) requires each LMHA to plan, develop policy, coordinate, allocate, and develop resources for mental health services in its local service area.  HHSC contracts with 39 LMHAs to deliver mental health services in communities across Texas. LMHAs provide psychiatric crisis response through 24-hour hotlines and mobile crisis outreach teams.  LMHAs also provide behavioral health services and referrals for Texans seeking behavioral health services. LMHAs routinely outreach to community partners as well as serve as resources in their respective communities for training related to behavioral health and the coordination of behavioral health services during disasters.

Below are two ways to identify the LMHA which serves each LEA:

Download a copy of the crosswalk of Texas LMHAs and LEAs. This tool identifies each Texas school system with their corresponding Texas LMHA and includes the LMHA name, website, and crisis line.

You can also access information through the online LMHA search tool:  http://www.dshs.texas.gov/mhservices-search. You can search for the referral line phone number of each LMHA by city, county, or zip code using the online mental health services search form. You may call the referral line of the LMHA in your area for confidential help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Services may include:

  • Referrals for student or family  mental health services
  • Prevention/Intervention/Postvention Training
  • Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT) Counseling support in times of crisis or disaster
  • Crisis Counseling Hotlines
  • Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Hotlines

Please contact your LMHA for specific services available in your county – with links to websites

Region 2 LMHAs

  • McMullen County

 

  • Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Duval, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Live Oak, and San Patricio Counties

  • Nueces County

Hotlines

Nueces Center MHID 24 Hour Crisis Hotline 1-888-767-4493

Coastal Plains Community Center  Free 24 Hour Crisis Hotline at 1-800-841-6467

Texas Youth Helpline (Teens & Parents) Call: 1-800-989-6884  Text: 512-872-5777

Texas HHS COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line   1-833-986-1919

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746

National Parent Helpline 1-855-427-2736 (Mon. thru Fri.10 AM PST to 7 PM PST)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273-TALK (8255)

 

Awareness Resource Links

Suicide Prevention Social Media Tool Kit

Suicide Prevention Life Line

CDC Be There, Prevent Suicide

NAMI Suicide Prevention Awareness

For more resources, click on the Connection Quest logo above to access our resource file.

 

PostVention

After Suicide Toolkit for Schools

This toolkit reflects consensus recommendations developed in consultation with national experts, including school-based administrators and staff, clinicians, researchers, and crisis response professionals. It provides guidance and tools for postvention, a term used to describe activities that help people cope with the emotional distress resulting from a suicide and prevent additional trauma that could lead to further suicidal behavior and deaths, especially among people who are vulnerable.

 

Mental/Behavioral Health Toolkits, Prevention/Intervention Supports & Program/Policy Development 

Texas Advancing Suicide Safer Schools Roadmap

Texas Suicide Prevention Collaborative

HHSC Suicide Prevention

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New Toolkit: COVID-19 and Mental Health Considerations Amid Reintegration to School

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented change to schools and has significantly impacted children, their families, and school staff. The Texas School Safety Center has developed a new toolkit to address mental health considerations for supporting students, staff, and parents in the transition back to school. These mental health considerations are divided into eight topics:

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For more resources, click on the Connection Quest logo above to access our resource file.

Online Training

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. This three year certification gives adults who work with youth the skills they need to reach out and provide initial support to adolescents (ages 12-18) who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care.

AS+K? Basic  - Gatekeeper Training

This free e-learning- course takes one hour to complete.

This course is suited for persons who require suicide prevention gatekeeper skills for their communities and employers. It has been designed to meet the requirements for Texas and Texas educators. This online training is intended to meet Texas K-12 public school suicide prevention training requirements and other suicide prevention training needs.

Project Restore

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Trauma-Informed Training Series
As a result of school closures and remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students have been at higher risk of exposure due to adverse childhood experiences and first-hand exposure to the effects of COVID-19. We also know that many educators have themselves experienced a prolonged state of stress over the course of the pandemic and share many of the concerns regarding loss of safety, health, and predictability as students upon the return to school.
That’s why TEA has launched Project Restore and this trauma-informed training video series, which is designed to address these extraordinary and unprecedented needs and connect you to relevant science and strategies that can help you address your own emotional needs as well the needs of your students and colleagues. This series will help educators create an environment that jump-starts teaching and learning and drives student achievement.

 

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