Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $402,770)
The Board of Cooperative Educational Services of Ulster County (UBOCES) is proposing this project to further enhance the development and implementation of Behavioral Threat Assessment teams in its schools and in its eight component school districts by providing threat assessment and suicide prevention training, as well as piloting the implementation of electronic case management software. The districts collectively span 921+ square miles, with a population of 166,737, and serve 20,000 – 21,000 K-12 students each year. Each district has implemented a variety of programs to improve school safety and climate. For instance, all have district-wide school safety plans and building-level emergency response plans that outline risk reduction/prevention, response, and recovery plans for natural and man-made emergencies. However, despite these efforts, multiple community health issues in Ulster County present risk factors for these districts’ students. Specifically, a high percentage of the county’s population is impacted by mental health and substance abuse issues, and students struggle with issues including suicidal ideation, isolation, anxiety, and depressive disorders. Additionally, significant concern exists about the short- and long-term impacts of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in the districts. While risk factors existed pre-pandemic, the unprecedented impacts caused by the lock-downs and ongoing restrictions pose grave concern due to the vast number of students exposed to risk factors and the intensity, duration, and combination of risk factors they are experiencing. Now more than ever, it is critical to fully implement threat assessment in these districts to assess potential threats and provide effective interventions to support students and prevent violence.
Therefore, over 36-months, we propose to enhance the development and deployment of multidisciplinary threat assessment teams in these eight districts by implementing the evidence-based Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) model through an accessible and high-quality eLearning training platform to build, strengthen, and maintain knowledge and skills in threat assessment and suicide prevention. Additionally, we plan to pilot an electronic case management tool to improve and support the effective facilitation of the CSTAG and suicide assessment methodologies. To achieve the highest degree of impact, mitigate any potential negative outcomes, and ensure long-term sustainability of the project, we will use a cyclical and phased approach to implementation. This project will further build upon regional safety efforts to address the problem of school violence by enhancing prevention and intervention efforts to support students, while also ensuring a positive school climate.