Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,000,000)
The Pennsylvania Center for Safe Schools (CSS), housed at the Center for Schools and Communities, a statewide training and technical assistance division of the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, is proposing this project to further enhance the development and implementation of Behavioral Threat Assessment (BTA) teams at districts across the state. This project will further build upon an already ongoing statewide effort to address the problem of school violence through prevention and intervention efforts to support students. The State of Pennsylvania has aligned with federal recommendations and adopted threat assessment as a key strategy to identify threats and implement effective interventions. However, the COVID-19 pandemic began just as legislation was taking effect and, as a result, many school employees remain unaware of the BTA team in their school and many BTA team staff feel unprepared to explain to their colleagues the importance of the team in the school. Despite our efforts, CSS requires additional support to get our threat assessment program fully trained and operational as soon as possible to address the growing needs of districts. As statewide data suggests, a significant need to support our communities exists as they continue to experience exposure to social, emotional, and familial risk factors.
To address these challenges, CSS is proposing to enhance the implementation of our multidisciplinary threat assessment teams by delivering our evidence-based CSTAG model through a high-quality eLearning training platform for our school teams to build, strengthen, and maintain knowledge and skills in threat assessment and suicide prevention. The threat assessment training will include both eLearning modules and an interactive virtual or in-person team learning components that not only provide the background needed to implement threat assessment, but the practical hands-on skills. CSS will also work with local law enforcement agencies to offer CSTAG eLearning training modules designed specifically for law enforcement. The case management software will guide multidisciplinary teams as they document and assess cases, and more effectively implement harm reduction plans for at-risk students that are trauma-informed and developmentally appropriate. These tools will be made available to districts throughout the state over a 36-month period using a cyclical and phased approach to implementation. Specific elements are also embedded within our proposal that will ensure these activities have the long-term impacts desired even after the conclusion of the grant.