Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $943,830)
The Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) is proposing this project to further enhance the development and implementation of Behavioral Threat Assessment teams in Chester County school districts. 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. Pennsylvania legislation requires BTA teams to retain members with expertise in school administration, instruction, counseling, and law enforcement, as a multidisciplinary perspective is critical when conducting threat assessments. Despite best efforts to implement BTA in Chester County schools, challenges continue to experience and relate to establishing and maintaining fully trained multidisciplinary BTA teams. Due to challenges stemming from COVID-19, limited staffing poses challenges for acquiring areas of expertise to staff teamsandstaff turnover results in an ongoing need for training new staff and team members. To successfully implement BTA in schools,CCIU needs to provide ongoing, accessible training to entire teams to ensure all team members understand the purpose and processesinvolved in BTA. Additionally, suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among our nation’s youth. In Chester County specifically, threats to self increased during the 2021-2022 school year. Educating the school community on suicide and suicide prevention will increase the likelihood of someone recognizing warning signs and reporting concerns to our BTA teams for appropriate intervention.
To address these challenges, the CCIU 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. CCIU 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 CCIU districts 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 beyond the life of the grant.