Kristine J. Melloy, Ph.D. - President CCBD Executive Committee
Mental Health in the Schools…A Call for Healing and to Action!
The wounds experienced as a result of the horrific happenings on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut are still raw. The deaths of 20 innocent children and 6 adults at Newtown Elementary School gunned down in the course of their school day is a tragedy that once again brought us as a nation to our knees in anguish and heard us saying, “What? Not again!” Our hearts go out to the families of the children and adults killed that day and the community of Newtown as they heal. In all, 28 persons were tragically killed that day including the gunman and his mother. One wonders how you ever recover from such loss and yet the people of Newtown are a model for the rest of us as they have come together to support each other in this time of great loss.
CCBD is a community of special educators. It hit us especially hard to know that on that day we lost fellow special education professionals and several students who had disabilities who were among those who were killed. Perhaps as a testimony to them and to all those who have been lost in school shootings and other such tragedies, CCBD along with others move forward to help our nation heal and take action so that perhaps, there will come a time when school shootings will never happen again and mental health will be as much a part of the school curriculum as are reading, writing, math and social skills. It is important to be reminded at a time like this that even though shootings do take place in schools, schools are still the safest place for children and youth in our communities. Researchers and practitioners along with parents, advocates and policy makers are calling for what will really make a difference – increased access to mental health services and safe schools and communities.
The following outlines actions that CCBD and others have taken or will take to promote mental health in the schools and school safety in an effort to “turn national attention to the need for mental-health literacy and expanded mental-health services in the schools” (Murray, 2013) in order to make mental health part of the safe school solution.
CCBD took action the very weekend of the Newtown shootings to formulate a response that calls for emphasizing the increase of mental health awareness across all educational settings (ccbd.net, 2012). In that same week, CCBD signed on with the position statement by the Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence (http://curry.virginia.edu/articles/sandyhookshooting). The message of that document is the need for a balanced approach to prevent school and community violence. This balanced approach suggests integrated programs that include systems for communication, connectedness and support. The statement points out that although it may seem intuitive to school personnel to increase levels of security (e.g., cameras, secure doors, metal detectors, guards) in schools to promote school safety, it has been found that these things do not result in protection against school shootings. “A balanced approach to preventing violence and protecting students includes a variety of efforts addressing physical safety, educational practices, and programs that support the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students” (Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence, December, 2012, p. 1). The position statement includes information about communicationas a critical component in the balanced approach to preventing school and community violence. According to the statement, communication among members of the school community including students and families promotes trust that in turn results in reporting of possible threats to safety. These threats can be investigated, leading to possible prevention of violence. Connectedness is another factor that binds students, staff and families together in schools and communities thus leading to safer environments. Communities that are connected will care for each other and look out for each other. Finally, support is critical for effective prevention from stressors such as bullying, incivility, depression, anxiety and conflict (Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence, December, 2012). Support needs to be available to students in schools and communities in a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) in order to meet the needs of all students whether at the all school level for all students, targeted level for students who are at risk, or intensive level for students who are at the highest level of risk and needs. These supports include school and community based mental health services.
Recently, CCBD signed on to the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition’s (NJJDPC, 2013) recommendations for President Obama and Congress for reducing violence and keeping kids and communities safe. The recommendations include in part (NJJDPC, 2013):
- Passing the Youth PROMISE Act – this act aims to reduce violence in communities that have a high concentration of youth at risk of school disengagement, social disconnection and/or delinquent behavior, by providing targeted federal investments in prevention and intervention strategies such as family strengthening programs, academic and school supports, and positive youth development.
- Reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act – reauthorizing this act includes new provisions designed to increase screening and assessment for children and youth who come into contact with the courts, as well as to improve family and community supports and services for mental health and behavioral health.
- Improve access to quality of mental health and behavioral health services- support proposals to help identify mental/behavioral health needs early, including mental illness and substance abuse; and to expand access to services and treatment and to improve quality of those services.
- Support youth reentry – based on the idea that reentry services and aftercare for youth exiting juvenile justice facilities reduce recidivism, this recommendation calls for supporting successful reintegration of youth back into families and communities.
CCBD is collaborating with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) on public policy initiative regarding mental health in schools. Collaboration includes working together to develop positions on the following mental health in the schools related federal legislation.(Hymes, 2013):
- Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013 – this proposed legislation will provide grants to states to support mental health first aid training programs in areas such as skills, resources and knowledge needed to connect individuals in crisis with local mental health care professionals. School personnel would be among those considered for training.
- Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013 – this proposed legislation has three purposes: (1) revise, increase funding for and expand the scope of the Safe Schools-Health Students Program to provide more access to school-based mental health services and supports; (2) provide for staff development for school and community service personnel working in the school; (3) provide for comprehensive training for children with mental health disorders parents and siblings and other family members.
- Student Support Act – this proposed legislation amends the ESEA to require the Secretary of Education to make matching grants of at least $1 million to states for allocation to LEAs so that additional school-based mental health and student services providers may be hired.
- Safe Schools Improvement Act – this act will be reintroduced this session and amends the ESEA to ensure that schools and districts (1) develop and use conduct policies that include prohibitions regarding bullying and harassment; (2) focus on prevention strategies and professional development to address bullying and harassment; and (3) states and districts maintain and report data of bullying and harassment.
CEC has asked the AGR Chairperson, Susan Albrecht and me to identify a witness list that CEC could call on to serve as witnesses for Congressional hearings relevant to these pieces of legislation. In addition, CEC has asked us to coordinate written testimony that can be submitted as part of the Congressional record for a hearing by a member of Congress related to this legislation. As you read this newsletter, this work is in progress.
Also in progress, is a CCBD White Paper on the topic of Mental Health in the Schools. The AGR Committee in collaboration with mental health experts from around the country are in collaboration to create this paper that serves as a reference document for education professionals and others with recommendations for serving children and youth in school settings with mental health needs.
Actions such as those taken by CCBD in collaboration with others result in healing…
The community of Newtown, our nation, and CCBD – we all move on after the tragedy experienced on December 14, 2012. We don’t forget the 20 children and the 8 adults who died that day. In their memory and in the memory of all those who have gone before them, those who have gone since, and those who will go in the future as the result of violence, we keep moving forward. Even on those days when we feel like all we want to do is curl up under our desk and cry for the loss, we have to keep moving on. Positive actions help to heal hurts and the actions CCBD is taking in collaborations with others will result in promoting mental health of children and youth and school safety.
What are the actions you are taking to help in this effort?
CCBD response to Sandy Hook Elementary shooting (2012). Ccbd.net.
Interdisciplinary group on preventing school and community violence. (2012). (http://curry.virginia.edu/articles/sandyhookshooting)
Hyme, K. (February, 2013). CEC public policy initiatives regarding mental health in schools. Notes from phone meeting with CCBD AGR Chairperson, Susan Albrecht and President, Kristine Melloy.
Murray, L. (Jan. 29, 2013). Making mental health part of the school safety solution. Education Week. Retrieved:http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/01/30/19murray.h32.html?tkn=TVQFuvgkNaTme
National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (Jan., 2013). Reducing violence and keeping our kids and communities safe: Recommendations for President Obama, Vice President Biden and the 113thCongress.http://www.promotesafecommunities.org/images/pdfs/NJJDP_Newtown_Response_Recs_Jan_24_2013_FINAL.pdf
Dangers of Physical Restraint at School
Joe Ryan, VP CCBD Executive Committee
There is a growing concern by parents and advocacy groups across the nation that many children with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) have been subjected to extremely harsh forms of behavioral interventions such as physical restraint to manage aggressive behaviors. While there is no current system in place to accurately track the number of injuries or death that occur each year due to restraint procedures, advocacy agencies estimate that as many as 8 to 10 children die each year due to restraint (Child Welfare League of America, 2002). The primary cause of death comes from staff members improperly performing floor restraints by placing their body weight on the student’s back or chest while they are resisting. The weight of the staff members on a child’s back or chest can prevent or limit their ability to breathe resulting in death by asphyxia.
The brief 5 minute Anderson Cooper Live segment below shows how divisive this issue can be with one parent (Nikki) supporting the use of restraints with her daughter who is Autistic, while a second parent (Sheila) grieves the loss of her 16 year old son who recently died during a 4 person floor restraint at a residential school because he refused to leave the basketball court. Such tragedies highlight the importance of training staff members in effective de-escalation strategies. While many EBD teachers have been trained in one of the many commercially available crisis intervention programs, staff members sometimes leave such training with an emphasis placed on performing restraints instead of developing effective de-escalation strategies. As EBD teachers it is essential that we emphasize and practice the de-escalation strategies these programs teach to better enable us to safely manage aggressive students under our care. I have also attached a link to CCBD/CEC’s position statement on the use of restraint procedures in school.
Anderson Cooper Live discussion on the use of Physical Restraint in Schools
CCBD / CEC Position Statement on the Use of Restraint in Schools:
Child Welfare League of America. (2002). Advocacy: Seclusion and restraints: Factsheet, 1-2. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from www.cwla.org/advocacy/secresfactsheet.htm
Call for Proposals
The CCBD Professional Development Committee is proud to announce that opening of the "Call for Proposals to the 2013 International Council for Children with Behavior Disorders Conference (ICCBD) in Chicago, IL September 26—28, 2013. The topic of the conference is "A Brighter Future: Prevention and Intervention on Behalf of Students with Challenging Behaviors" and we are thrilled to announce that our keynote will be Dr. Greg Benner, Executive Director at the Center for Strong Schools and professor at the University of Washington-Tacoma. Please visit the CCBD website at www.ccbd.net, our Facebook page, or click on the links below to access the Call for Proposals and the registration to our conference.
Registration Link: http://www.regonline.com/2013ccbdconf
Proposal Submission Link: https://cmt.research.microsoft.com/CCBD2013/
CCBD Executive Committee Elections
Just when you thought the election season was over…..
It is time to participate in the CCBD Executive Committee Elections. The electronic ballot process will begin February 11 and end March 11, 2013. We are piloting a new electronic ballot system that we hope will ease past issues we have had in the voting process. The slate of officers on our ballot consist of-
Student Member at Large
Nominations and Elections Committee
We have an excellent slate of officers for our board. Please be sure to access the email link and vote for the candidates.
Now It's Easier to Reprint CCBD Publications!
Carl Liaupsin - Publications Chair
The mission of CCBD is to encourage research, promote professional growth, and support those who serve children and youth with behavioral disorders. The publications produced by CCBD (Behavioral Disorders, Beyond Behavior, andCCBD Newsletter) are all designed to help fulfill this mission. That's why we are so pleased whenever we receive requests to reprint material that has appeared in our publications.
Recently we posted a reprint permission form on our website (on the Publications page) to make it even easier to request the use of material. Our publications materials are widely used by authors in textbooks and school district personnel for professional development. And in almost all cases, we provide permission to reprint free of any charge. We encourage you to continue to make use of CCBD publications in the good work that you do for children and youth with behavioral disorders.
'Fiscal March Madness' Threatens Key Programs
Myrna R. Mandlawitz, Esq.
A highly regarded DC budget guru has labeled the upcoming fiscal collision "Fiscal March Madness," an apt description for what may happen if Congress fails to act again. Since the passage of the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), Congress has been unable to reach agreement on how to sensibly address deficit reduction. This poses a serious threat to all federal programs.
As most people were celebrating New Year's Eve, Congress was still embroiled in negotiations on the fiscal cliff deal. With final passage early in the first week of 2013, Congress settled some of the tax questions and delayed implementation of sequestration until March 1. Earlier in the fall, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), a stopgap measure to keep the lights on until they finalize appropriations – spending levels – for the current fiscal year (FY 2013), which began on October 1, 2012. The CR expires on March 27.
The threat to both non-defense discretionary programs and now also to defense spending continues to grow. Sequestration means across the board cuts to all discretionary programs – education, health, social services, environment, transportation, security and most other functions of government. Originally those cuts were to occur on January 2 and would have meant around an 8.2% reduction in funding. Now with the delay, that percentage will be closer to 5.1%. The official percentage cut will be released by the Congressional Budget Office on March 1.
Cuts at 5.1% would mean a reduction in the Department of Education budget of approximately $2.51 billion, and Head Start would take a $409 million cut. In Fiscal Years 2014-2021, there would not be across-the-board cuts, but rather the discretionary spending caps would be lowered further, squeezing education and other programs even tighter. Education is somewhat insulated from immediate cuts, since most all education programs are forward funding. Forward funding means the Department of Education actually sends checks out to school districts in July rather than January. That said, because of local district budgeting schedules, many districts made adjustments in early 2012 for school year 2012-13, anticipating sequestration in the middle of the year.
Sequestration cuts will be based on the current CR, which itself includes a 0.612% across the board cut below FY 2012 funding levels. Repealing the entire sequester would cost $960 billion. The Administration would address this through 50% new revenues and 50% in spending cuts. The Republican leadership continues to say it opposes any new revenues. This doesn't bode well for a bipartisan deal.
With the Continuing Resolution expiring at the end of March, there is some speculation that Congress might let sequestration take effect on March 1 and then deal with "fixing" it in the next CR. However, the CR in itself is problematic. The CR is funding for FY 2013, but the President should have released his proposed budget for FY 2014 the first Monday in February 2013. Instead, that announcement has been delayed possibly to the middle or end of March. In the meantime, the House and Senate have said they will not wait for the president's budget to produce their own proposals for the next fiscal year.
Congress has also acted to waive the debt ceiling through May 18. On May 19, the debt ceiling will be raised automatically, but it will probably not need to be raised again until July because the Treasury can use "extraordinary measures" to prevent default. The "No Budget, No Pay Act" that suspended the debt ceiling says also that if either chamber of Congress does not pass a budget resolution by April 15, Congress members will have their pay withheld until a budget resolution is passed or until the end of the Congress. Don't worry, though, because they will be paid. By law Congress is not allowed to suspend its own pay!
Both the House and Senate are committed to getting a budget done for FY 2014. Speaker of the House Boehner (R-OH) has said the House budget will be balanced in 10 years, 16 years sooner than the budget proposed last year by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). This will require much deeper cuts – deeper than the sequester – both from discretionary and mandatory funding, and will also probably mean further lowering discretionary spending caps.
Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) has also pledged to get a budget done, which the Senate has not accomplished in several years. In a January 24 memo to Senate colleagues, Senator Murray said Congress has already accomplished $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over the last two years, the majority of savings from spending cuts. $1.5 trillion in cuts over 10 years made in bipartisan deals in 2011 came from discretionary spending, resulting in discretionary spending falling to its lowest level as a share of the economy in over 50 years. Therefore, her focus is finding more revenue, particularly from the "wealthiest Americans."
Somebody or something has to give! Fiscal March Madness is coming up fast, so start filling out your brackets now. The stakes could not be higher. As the games begin, we'll keep you informed and hopefully common sense will be the big winner.
CCBD and Communities of Practice
Mike Paget - CCBD Treasurer
CCBD members have a world of experience handling emotional and behavioral issues of their students. You handle complex kids while juggling the demands of a school system that looks for academic gains. You also know that to reach those academic gains, your primary role has to be to support the student in dealing with “barriers to learning.” Those barriers include behavior and discipline issues, home and family challenges, and mental health challenges. Our students’ lives are truly 24/7, and our success is often impacted by things that feel beyond our influence.
Families would probably say something similar regarding their kids who come home from school, perhaps wound up from the day. The parents may be feeling that school issues are beyond their influence, yet they impact the quality of life at home.
And finally, mental health and other professionals in the community are often working in their own offices, hoping to help youth feel and be more successful emotionally, academically, and behaviorally, at school, home, and in the community.
Wow do we need each other! For the past decade a group of professionals and families have been working together to find ways to get us connected. One of the concepts being promoted is the “Community of Practice.”
“The Community of Practice makes connections from person to person for shared inquiry and learning about a practice or issue. Everyone's voice is needed to understand the practice or issue. Participants have a shared identity, relationships within a community, and a shared repertoire of practices or experiences about an issue” (Wenger, E. 2003, November 11. Communities of practice. Plenary session at the National Conference of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Louisville, KY.)
In the next few CCBD Newsletters we are going to explore how improving our connections as a “Community of Practice for Behavioral Health” might help us help our students. I look forward to this chance to share some thoughts, hopefully to the benefit of our members, and the students we all are working for.
Erika Blood - CCBD Newsletter Editor
The CCBD Newsletter presents a variety of viewpoints on sensitive and diverse issues. The views expressed or implied, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official positions of the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders.
The CCBD Newsletter is published 6 times a year by the Council for Exceptional Children, 2900 Crystal Drive, Suite 1000, Arlington, VA 22202-3557. Members’ dues to CCBD include subscription to the newsletter.
Send all news items and inquiries to Erika Blood, Northern Illinois University, College of Education, Department of Special and Early Education, Gabel Hall 162K, DeKalb, IL 60115-2828; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Change of e-mail address should be phoned (toll-free) to CEC at (888) 232-7733.