The Baldwinsville Central School District is continuing to make good on its promise to improve mental health services and education. The district is partnering with Liberty Resources, a Syracuse-based human service agency, to provide counseling and crisis intervention to students at Ray Middle School, Durgee Junior High School and Baker High School.
“We are putting our students’ mental health on par with their physical health because we are committed, as a school district, to aiding our students in finding the resources they need to be healthy,” Superintendent Matt McDonald said in a release. “Mental wellbeing is an important component of a child’s overall health, happiness and ability to learn and grow to his or her full potential.”
“It would be very similar to the [private] services a parent might set up for their children,” David Kilcourse, director of pupil and personnel services, told the Messenger. “This is much higher than just seeing a school psychologist.”
Liberty Resources began offering its services at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. Each counselor, Kilcourse said, has a maximum caseload of 30 students. Hosting Liberty Resources’ clinical staff in private offices within the three secondary school buildings allows students to access the help they need without having to travel outside of B’ville.
“A lot of times, parents run into the difficulty in getting students to the services,” Kilcourse said.
Among the services Liberty Resources offers are:
Either parents or school staff can refer a student to Liberty Resources’ services, which are billed through a family’s health insurance. Any additional bills, such as copays, are mailed to the student’s home.
The program also takes privacy concerns into consideration. Guidance offices in Ray, Durgee and Baker have set up a discreet sign-in system for appointments, and the school does not have access to a student’s mental health records unless a parent authorizes it.
Students can schedule most appointments during their lunch break or study halls to avoid missing classes.
“Typically they would try not to interfere — if it was a regular counseling session — with their academics,” Kilcourse said.
Kilcourse said Liberty Resources can work in conjunction with other healthcare providers or refer students to other services in the community.
“They can work with the parents in conjunction with Liberty Resources and their doctors if they need medications. It’s a clinical support,” Kilcourse said. “If the school has identified that the student needs a higher level of services, we could recommend services through Liberty Resources.”
Kilcourse said continuity of care is important to the district.
“The goal is to give support all the time — it’s not just for one time. [We’re] bringing in new people to give support on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Counseling does not have to end when the school year does, Kilcourse added.
“The service is provided year-round. They’ll be in the building in the summer months,” he said.
While he did not have data showing how many students have used Liberty Resources’ counseling services this year, Kilcourse said the program has been well-received.
“From the counselors I’ve spoken to, they’re getting very good feedback from the parents,” he said. “It’s just been another tool in our resources for families.”
To learn more about the specific services available, contact Liberty Resources at (315) 472-4471. Visit the Baldwinsville Central School District’s mental health resources page at bville.org/teacherpage.cfm?teacher=4838.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.