SCHOOL AGE SERVICES - PROGRAM OVERVIEW
The School Age Services program provides voluntary, non-residential mental health services for children (age 5-18 years) and their families, who are experiencing emotional, psychological and/or behavioral problems. The Program is designed to promote mental well-being by providing an integrated bio-psycho-social approach to assessment, treatment, and referral services. Services are provided by multidisciplinary teams of therapists. Disciplines represented include social work, psychology, nursing, occupational therapy, and psychiatry. Together they employ an eclectic blend of therapeutic models to facilitate the healing and growth of patients. Individual, family and group therapy are offered in a variety of formats.
All approaches to treatment are grounded in the belief that:
(a) individuals and systems are multidimensional;
(b) assessment must examine biological, psychological and social factors;
(c) treatment must address the person and the environment; and
(d) in order to be healthy, individuals must believe in themselves and their strengths.
REFERRAL AND INTAKE PROCESS
Referrals to CASA’s mental health services are centrally co-ordinated along with Alberta Health Services within the region. Children 4.5 years of age or older are referred to Regional Children’s Mental Health Intake (780-342-2701). Infants and children under 4.5 years of age are referred directly to CASA (780-400-2271).
Once a referral is made to Regional Intake:
- An intake staff conducts a telephone screening interview.
- Whenever possible, the intake information is supplemented with reports of previous assessments, treatment,as well as related academic information.
- Families are encouraged to discuss their request for mental health services with their family doctor if they haven’t already done so, to ensure medical follow-up if necessary.
- Following the intake screening, referrals are conferenced. The regional conferences include clinical managers of Alberta Health Services (AHS) and CASA’s children’s mental health programs and services.
- The conference team recommends a program or service for the child and family based on a variety of criteria, including geography, age, presenting concern(s), and history of treatment.
- The recommendations are discussed with the family following the conference. If the family agrees with the referral, all screening information and reports are forwarded to the recommended service.
- Referrals sent to CASA by Regional Intake are distributed to the appropriate CASA program after recording them in a central database. The program teams review and prioritize referrals (based on the Western Canadian Waitlist Criteria) according to urgency of need for treatment and order of referral.
As space becomes available in School Age Services therapist caseload, referrals are assigned to a primary therapist for comprehensive assessment and further treatment as indicated. All initial assessments are conferenced with the multidisciplinary team. Psychiatrists conduct psychiatric evaluations and provide treatment as required.
- A child or adolescent will receive services at CASA if:
- they are between the ages of 0 and 18 (4.5 years – 18 years of age for School Age Services)
- the problem is primarily related to the child's behavioural and psychological dysfunction
Referrals seeking evidence of dysfunction and/or treatment recommendations for purposes of court proceedings will not be accepted.
HOURS OF OPERATION
8:15 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday to Friday with exception of holidays
Therapy sessions may be offered after regular office hours, to better meet the needs of the patients and families.
The goal of School Age Services is to promote, preserve, and restore the mental health of children, adolescents, and their families, so that:
- Patients and their families are afforded an opportunity to understand, resolve, repair, or mediate pathological mental health experiences.
- Children, adolescents and families are served according to their needs and assisted in attaining their highest level of functioning within their community.
- The child, adolescent, and family will recognize, appreciate and use their strengths to achieve their goals.
PRINCIPLES OF PRACTICE
In the treatment of children, adolescents, and their families, effective clinical practice incorporates the following:
- comprehensive bio-psycho-social assessments.
- active participation/inclusion of the family in treatment.
- the use of evidence informed, therapeutic approaches.
- the use of age-appropriate treatment modalities.
- active liaising with the multidisciplinary team.
- active liaising with the school and community network of the child and family.
- support to families through peers.
- recognizing the child and family as equal partners with caregivers in the treatment process.
All persons receiving treatment participate in individual and family sessions. Psychiatric evaluations and treatment are scheduled as required. A variety of treatment modalities are used including play therapy, cognitive-behavioural techniques, family systems therapy, relaxation techniques, rational-emotive therapy, and solution-focused approaches. Underlying all practice is the belief in the capacity of the individual and family to grow in their strengths. The following treatment groups supplement the work done in individual and family sessions:
CASA supports coordinated, neighbourhood-based delivery of mental health services by delivering some services at outreach sites. These sites are strategically located in communities with a high need for services.
Abbottsfield Partners for Kids and Youth
The Partners for Kids & Youth Project is a unique child abuse prevention, investigation, and treatment demonstration program. It operates from the Abbottsfield Mall located in the community. An interagency team provides assessment, counselling, referral and advocacy services to children and their families. Programs and services are designed to promote healthy parenting and foster resiliency in children and families. Clients drop in for services for themselves and their families. They may also be referred by community professionals. CASA provides a therapist 2.5 days per week.
CASA therapists represent a variety of disciplines and approaches, and are available as consultants beyond the obligation of multidisciplinary team membership. The following definition was developed to clarify the consulting role and process:
Consultation at CASA is a process whereby two or more professionals collaborate in order to enhance the quality of service provided to a patient(s). This collaboration involves each member of the consultation team contributing their specific knowledge, skills, and perspective.
Consultation is initiated by the consultee. It is the responsibility of the consultee to utilize the information and/or advice obtained in a manner which best meets the needs of the patient.
Examples of consultation include the following:
- multidisciplinary team conferences
- individual mental health therapists
- consultations with psychiatrists outside the multidisciplinary team meetings
- consultation with the Family Systems Team
- consultation with specialty programs (i.e., Trauma and Attachment Program)