The Berks County Student Assistance Program (SAP) is a mandated team process designed to help identify students who are struggling with issues such as substance use and mental health concerns, and to help them achieve, advance and remain in school. SAP uses existing school resources, family involvement and outside agency support when appropriate.
Berks County SAP is a partnership between the Berks County Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Program, Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) and contracted SAP providers.
As representatives of the county drug and alcohol service system, COCA plays an active role in overseeing SAP in Berks County. Our primary role is to ensure the effective delivery of services to student assistance teams.
The Council on Chemical Abuse has SAP trained Prevention Specialists that visit SAP teams to monitor effectiveness and provide resources and support as needed for adherence to best practices. By meeting with team members, COCA Prevention Specialists keep abreast of gaps in resources and services and collaborate to find solutions.
SAP services are provided by contracted SAP liaisons who attend SAP team meetings, communicate with school staff and parents and complete behavioral health assessments.
The core of the student assistance program is a professionally trained team. Its members identify issues, determine whether or not the presenting issue lies within the responsibility of the school, and make recommendations to assist the student and parent. When the issues lies beyond the scope of the school, the SAP team will assist the parent and student so they can access services within the community. SAP team members do not diagnose, treat or refer to treatment; but they may refer a student to a SAP liaison who can assess for further community-based programs and supports.
A SAP team consists of school and community agency staffs that have completed specialized training in the Student Assistance process. These individuals typically include school teachers, nurses, school administrators, and school counselors, as well as community mental health and drug and alcohol liaisons.
Any person concerned about the overall well-being of a student may refer that student to SAP. A student can be referred by anyone. The most common referrals come from a parent, teacher, neighbor, school support staff, peer or even refer themselves. People making these referrals share a common goal: to help students enhance their emotional and behavioral health so they can succeed. All information is kept confidential.
Every school SAP team functions differently. Check the school website for information or contact the school counselor, who will assist you in referring to a student. For contact information specific to your child’s school, please contact Jaclyn Steed, the Council SAP Coordinator, by email at JSteed@cocaberks.org or by phone at (610) 376-8669, Ext. 107.
When a student is referred, the referral form is received by the SAP team. The parent is notified and informed about the SAP process and proper permission is obtained to continue. The team gathers observable behaviors about the student from individuals who have contact with the student, such as teachers and coaches. Information is also collected from the parent. A plan is collectively developed to address the barriers to learning. The SAP Team then meets with the parent to discuss the plan and recommendations. The plan may include a behavioral health assessment or linkage to school and/or community resources. The SAP team will continue to work with and support the student and family throughout the process.
For more information about Berks County’s SAP services provided through COCA, you may contact Jaclyn Steed, SAP Coordinator, by email at JSteed@cocaberks.org or by phone at (610) 376-8669, Ext. 107.