You are hereBlogs / Carla Cross's blog / SAP Referral Tips--Input from Ilene Baker

SAP Referral Tips--Input from Ilene Baker

By Carla Cross - Posted on 21 December 2012


Q: Who can refer a student to SAP?

A: Referrals can come from various sources, including teacher/administrator referral, a parent phoning in a request, to friend referral, to student self-referral.

Q: What’s the referral process?

A: This can differ widely by school, from a simple email with the student’s name, date, and request to be seen, to a formal, detailed referral form. Some programs allow student walk-ins whereas others require an advance referral. If self- or friend referrals are permitted, it’s particularly important to have a usable and easy-to-understand form for students to fill out. The advantage of an informal procedure, of course, is that it’s nonthreatening for students who may be reluctant to seek help. On the other hand, a more detailed referral gives the SAP coordinator information to triage which students are in most urgent need and to plan a likely direction for intervention. It’s important for the SAP coordinator to have a reasonable workload in order to be able to meet with prospective students promptly and identify emergency situations.

Q: What are special issues with student self-referral/friend referral?

A: Friend referrals can be helpful in reaching out to students who are moving under the adults’ radar, but whereas adult referrals are typically prompt and accurate, student referrals are more variable in their credibility. Some students may refer friends as much for the excitement of the drama as from a genuine desire to help. Other students have been known to self-refer simply to get out of a disliked class without truancy consequences.

Q: What about confidentiality and accountability issues?

A: These are tricky issues when minors are involved in referrals. There need to be clearly spelled-out guidelines about maintaining confidentiality of personal information, consent, and whether students can divulge information about their peers while remaining anonymous. In addition, all students need to understand whether there are consequences to friend or self-referral. For example, if the school has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs/alcohol, what happens if a student who self-refers (or is referred by a friend) is under the influence? Is the school discipline matrix followed? Are parents notified? What implications do these policies have if students can “turn each other in”?

Q: What advice would you give coordinators?

A: Clearly define your role and accessibility to avoid being overwhelmed. Be realistic about your abilities, both to respond to referrals on a timely basis and to deal with issues that arise. Know when to refer students/families out for a higher level of service. Make sure your documentation system is comprehensive, including call logs, so that nothing falls through the cracks.