3.7.6 mandatory reports to child protective services by school site administrator or designee, mandatory reports to child protective services by school site administrator or designee.
School personnel are mandated reporters, and are therefore required to file a report with Child Protective Services (CPS) if they have knowledge of or observe a child whom the reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect. The report must be made immediately or as soon as is practically possible by telephone, and the reporter must prepare and fax or electronically transmit a written report of the incident within 36 hours of receiving the information about the incident. CPS Hotline: (415) 558-2650 or 1-800-856-5553.
Child abuse and neglect includes (1) physical injury inflicted upon a child by other than accidental means; (2) sexual abuse or assault; (3) neglect (negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by person responsible for their welfare indicating harm or threatened harm to the child’s health or welfare), (4) willful harming or injuring of a child or the endangering of the person or health of a child, and (5) unlawful corporal punishment or injury.
Child abuse or neglect does not include a mutual affray between minors; an injury caused by reasonable and necessary force used by a peace officer acting within the course and scope of their employment as a peace officer; or reasonable and necessary force used by a school employee to quell a disturbance threatening physical injury to another person or damage to property, for purposes of self-defense, or to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects within the control of the student.
Child Abuse Investigations
Police and/or Child Protective Services workers have the authority to interview children at school regarding allegations of child abuse if they have (1) a court order or warrant, (2) parental consent, or (3) exigent circumstances.
We understand that being contacted by Child Protective Services (CPS) can be upsetting and we ask that families and caregivers do not contact the school or school employees to confront them or ask them if they contacted CPS. The identity of a reporting party is confidential and may only be disclosed to agencies that are receiving, investigating or prosecuting CPS reports. (CA Penal Code 11167(d)(1)) Employees are mandated reporters and can be subject to legal fines or imprisonment if they do not report. (CA Penal Code 11166(c))
Under California Penal Code 626.4, a school administrator may withdraw access to a school “whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that such person has willfully disrupted the orderly operation of such campus or facility.” (CA Penal Code 626.4(a)) Threatening or intimidating staff with physical harm or future physical confrontation can result in the school administrator issuing a stay away letter.
See the full Handbook and downloadable, translated PDFs at sfusd.edu/Handbook .
This page was last updated on August 16, 2023
What Do Schools Report to CPS? One State’s Experience
The vast majority of reports of child abuse and neglect emanate from adults outside a child’s family or neighborhood. Most calls come from so-called “mandated reporters,” who are required to disclose any concerns about child safety with protection officials. Some states classify all adults as mandated reporters, but generally, the term refers to professionals in the community such as police officers, doctors and nurses, or mental health counselors.
It is school officials that produce the most reports of abuse or neglect each year. In 2018, 20.5% of the 4.3 million maltreatment reports in the country came from school or day care workers, according to the annual “ Child Maltreatment ” report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The vast majority of those reports, 90% according to federal data, did not lead to a substantiated case of abuse or neglect. The Imprint was able to obtain recent data from one state, Georgia, to assess what the educators’ contribution to maltreatment allegations looks like.
In 2018 and 2019, there were 300,168 maltreatment reports made to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. As is the case nationally, the vast majority of these reports do not end in a confirmed victim of abuse or neglect – just 5% of these Georgia reports resulted in what’s called a substantiated allegation.
Just over 30% of Georgia’s hotline calls in that time frame were made by education or child care staff – well above the national rate of 21% for those workers. In the time between March 16 and last week, when the state school year ended, maltreatment reports from this segment of the community were all but erased.
That first week schools were closed, calls from education and child care sources dropped 84% compared with the average number from the previous two years. The comparative drop-off reached a peak of 91% the week of April 6.
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So what types of maltreatment are schools reporting?
In Georgia, they supplied one third of reports falling under the state’s most frequently cited allegation: inadequate supervision. The specific definition of this charge varies from state to state, but generally refers to leaving a child unattended in an unsafe environment, or failing to watch over children because of drug use, or a mental health episode. Inadequate Supervision is the allegation associated with 64% of all hotline calls in the state.
Predictably, schools provided the majority of educational neglect, which in Georgia can occur only after a student has 10 unexcused absences and a documented effort has been made to intervene and address that without court involvement. Sixty-one percent of calls about educational neglect came from education and child care reporters.
Educators were also the source of more than half of the sort of reports that can lead to confirmed physical abuse: “lacerations, cuts or punctures,” and “bruises, welts or abrasions.” And they also supply between 20 and 30% of reports about alarming alleged sexual abuse.
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A new minnesota department will heighten focus on children and families, measuring the impact of casa/gal model, new york poised to commit next round of funding for the ‘raise the age’ juvenile justice reform.
WA Lawmakers Introduce Bill Requiring Clergy to Report Child Abuse After a Similar Bill Died Over Catholic Opposition
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The Landscape of School-Based Mental Health Services
Nirmita Panchal , Cynthia Cox , and Robin Rudowitz Published: Sep 06, 2022
Many children and adolescents are experiencing poor mental and emotional health, which in some cases may be linked to negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and exposure to gun violence , among other factors. In recognition of growing mental health concerns among children, recent policy measures, including the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the American Rescue Plan Act , provide pathways to support school-based mental health services for students. These policy actions aim to expand mental health care in schools – a setting that is more easily accessible by children and adolescents.
In this analysis, we explore the landscape of mental health services in schools during the 2021-2022 school year, barriers to offering services, and how recent policies facilitate the expansion of school-based mental health care. We draw upon data from the new 2022 School Pulse Panel , a study by the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau that surveys staff of public primary, middle, high, and combined-grade schools monthly on a variety of topics, including school mental health services. 1
School-based mental health services can improve access to care , allow for early identification and treatment of mental health issues, and may be linked to reduced absenteeism and better mental health outcomes. School-based services can also reduce access barriers for underserved populations, including children from low-income households and children of color .
The delivery of mental health services in schools has evolved over time and continues to vary across schools. Some students access in-person mental health services at schools or near campus while others access services through telehealth. Service delivery can range from a single provider (who is not necessarily a licensed mental health professional) to a team of providers, including psychologists, social workers, and academic or guidance counselors. A growing number of schools have also integrated social and emotional learning and other mental health literacy programs into their curriculum.
Despite the growth of school-based mental health services, challenges persist, including mental health provider shortages and inadequate funding.
Landscape of School-Based Mental Health Services
SERVICES OFFERED Most public schools offer mental health services to students, although utilization remains unclear. In the 2021-2022 school year, 96% of public schools reported offering at least one type of mental health service to their students. As shown in Figure 1, the most frequently offered services are:
- Individual-based interventions like one-on-one counseling or therapy (84% of public schools),
- Case management or coordinating mental health services (70%), and
- Referrals for care outside of the school (66%).
Only one-third ( 34% ) of schools provide outreach services, which includes mental health screenings for all students. These universal behavioral health screenings are considered a best practice and allow for schools to better identify all students with needs and tailor services to their specific student population. However, many schools do not offer these screenings often due to a lack of resources or difficulty accessing providers to conduct screenings, burden of collecting and maintaining data, and/or a lack of buy-in from school administrators.
Approximately one out of five schools ( 17% ) reported offering mental health services through telehealth during the 2021-2022 school year. While telehealth became a more widely used pathway to delivering health care during the pandemic, a growing number of schools already began providing care through telehealth prior to the pandemic. The utilization of telehealth in all school-based health care is more common in rural areas – where provider shortages and transportation issues are more prevalent – and can reduce barriers to care for underserved students.
Staffing models for school-based mental health care can vary across schools. Sixty-eight percent of public schools have a school or district-employed licensed mental health professional on staff and 51% employ an external mental health provider (Figure 1). While general or academic school counselors can provide mental health services to students as well, they typically focus on short-term and preventive services and are not equipped to offer long-term care. The School Pulse Panel does not include information on the number of mental health providers on staff; however, other research indicates that most schools do not meet the recommended ratios of counselors and/or psychologists to students.
Other school staff, particularly teachers, often play a role in identifying students with mental health needs and linking them to care. However, research prior to the pandemic found that many teachers did not receive adequate training to identify and provide support to students with mental health needs. Since the pandemic began, nearly three out of four schools ( 73% ) have reported providing trainings and professional development to staff in order to help them identify growing mental health concerns among school students. However, data on the impact of these trainings is unavailable and it is unclear what share of schools were providing trainings prior to the pandemic.
School mental health services are supported through multiple sources of funding at the national, state, and local level. As shown in Figure 1, in the 2021-2022 school year, just over half of schools reported receiving funding for mental health services from district or school funds (57%) or federal grants or programs (52%), while smaller shares of schools reported funding from partnerships with organizations (37%) or state programs (32%). At the federal level, many schools receive support through the Department of Education – including grant programs and the Every Student Succeeds Act – and the Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS ). Schools may receive funds through Medicaid in several ways, including reimbursement for medically necessary services that are part of a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP),reimbursement for eligible health services for students with Medicaid coverage and for some administrative services. Additionally, many state budgets appropriate funds toward mental health services while fewer states allocate funds directly in their school funding models.
CHANGES DUE TO THE PANDEMIC
In response to growing mental health concerns during the pandemic, 67% of schools reported increasing mental health services offered to students (Figure 2). However, fewer than half of schools (41%) reported hiring new staff to focus on students’ mental health and well-being since the pandemic began (Figure 2). The inability of some schools to staff up despite growing mental health challenges may be due to budget constraints coupled with limited availability of mental health professionals.
In light of the pandemic, 27% of schools added classes for their students on social, emotional, and mental well-being since March 2020 (Figure 2). Additionally, for the 2021-2022 school year, 28% of schools made changes to their academic calendar to address mental health concerns for both staff and students. Examples of these changes include providing additional days off and allocating time to focus on mental wellness during the school day. Several states have introduced or passed measures allowing students excused absences related to mental health.
Barriers to School-Based Mental Health Services
During the 2021-2022 school year, approximately half of schools reported they strongly (12%) or moderately agreed (44%) they could effectively provide mental health services to all students in need. Meanwhile, a third of schools reported they strongly (10%) or moderately disagreed (23%) that they could effectively provide mental health services and 11% neither agreed or disagreed. Among the 88% of schools that did not strongly believe they could effectively provide mental health services to students in need, the most reported limitations involved mental health provider shortages – 61% cited insufficient staff coverage and 57% cited a lack of access to providers (Figure 3). Schools have faced provider shortages for years, but this issue has recently received more attention in light of growing mental health concerns among children. Many schools do not meet recommended ratios for psychologists to students ( 500:1 ) or counselors to students ( 250:1 ). Going into the 2022-2023 school year, 19% of public schools have vacancies for mental health professionals. Among schools with these vacancies, 84% reported it will be somewhat or very difficult to fill these mental health positions.
Among school staff that did not strongly believe they could provide mental health services to all students in need during the 2021-2022 school year, 48% cited inadequate funding as a barrier (Figure 3). Funding challenges for school mental health services have long existed. In order to provide and sustain services, many schools use funding from multiple sources, including at the national, state, and local levels, as previously mentioned. However, this presents several challenges as schools navigate varying specifications of how to utilize funds based on the source and changes to funding streams over time.
How Have Recent Policies Addressed School-Based Mental Health Services?
The American Rescue Plan Act and recent state policies have provided pathways to expand mental health and wellness services in schools. In 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was passed and designed to provide relief from the continued impacts of the pandemic. A portion of funds from the ARPA ($122.8 billion) were allocated for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER), and many states are using some of these funds to support school-based mental health care. Some ways states and schools are using these funds include growing the school mental health provider workforce (e.g. funding positions for mental health counselors and social workers in schools), partnering with community-based mental health agencies to expand access to care for students, providing trainings for school staff, and providing technical assistance for school mental health programs. However, one study has also found that lower-income schools and schools in rural areas are less likely to use ARPA funds toward school-based mental health services than their counterparts. Some schools (22%) reported using ARPA funds to create new staff positions during the 2021-2022 school year, although a large share of schools did not know (37%) if funds were used for these purposes. Among the schools that did use ARPA funds toward new staffing, 35% reported using a portion of these funds for school mental health professionals (e.g. psychologists and social workers). The ARPA also included funding to support students with disabilities and youth experiencing homelessness. Separately, some states have passed legislation to address growing mental health concerns, including the implementation of suicide prevention programs and mental health screening programs.
The recently passed Bipartisan Safer Communities Act also allocates funds to support school-based mental health services. In response to increasing gun violence and mass shootings, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was signed into law in June 2022. This legislation focuses on both gun reform and youth mental health, including provisions to support and expand school-based mental health services, highlighted below.
Despite recent increased attention and resources for school-based mental health services, challenges remain. In May 2022, large shares of public school staff reported that they strongly agree the pandemic has negatively impacted students’ behavioral development (39%) and socioemotional development (45%). It is unclear how schools will adequately address these impacts as they continue to face challenges, including mental health provider shortages , burnout among school staff, disparities by race and ethnicity in access to school services , and long-term sustainability issues. Addressing these challenges and improving access to school-based mental health services may help mitigate rising mental health concerns among youth.
The School Pulse Panel utilizes a random stratified sample of the Common Core of Data , a universe of public schools. This stratified sample includes public and public charter schools, schools with magnet programs, alternative schools, special education schools, and vocational schools. Approximately 2,400 schools were included in the sample. There has been some variation in the number of schools that respond each month. Seven hundred schools responded to the initial survey in January. Approximately 830 schools responded to the April survey – findings from this survey are included in this brief. While school principals are the initial point of contact to complete the survey, they may invite other school and district staff to assist with completion. Published data is weighted and adjusted to account for non-response.
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Home » How Do I Call In a Report? » What Criteria Must Be Met?
What Criteria Must Be Met?
Five criteria cps needs to register a report:.
You do not need to be certain that child abuse or neglect has occurred before you call the Child Abuse Hotline . However, you do need to have a reasonable suspicion . When you call, Child Abuse Hotline staff member will ask you to explain the information and circumstances that caused your suspicion.
Child Abuse Hotline staff members must use the five criteria based on state law to assess each call. Hotline staff will ask you about the child, the child’s family or persons legally responsible for the child and the circumstances in which you believe abuse or neglect took place. CPS needs this information in order to register a report . “Registering” a report means that CPS has enough information to follow up with the family and begin an investigation .
If you have a reasonable suspicion that abuse or neglect has occurred, you should always call the Hotline. If all of the necessary information is not available when you call the Hotline, CPS cannot register the report and may make other recommendations.
Below are the five criteria CPS uses to assess each call to the Hotline.
When It Is — And Isn’t —Appropriate To Call Child Protective Services (CPS)
Sometimes concerns arise and authorities need to be brought in. Here's how to make the call.
Parenthood puts you on alert. This is only natural. You are, after all, in charge of your child’s well-being. And whether through playdates or other parental obligations, you often end up in charge of other people’s kids. As such, there may come a time when you see or hear something that makes you concerned enough for a child’s safety that you consider making an anonymous call to Child Protective Services (CPS) — or, as they’re sometimes called, Social Services or Child and Family Services. The question of when to call CPS is not an easy one, as it carries with it a number of strong implications. But there are times when calling CPS is the right thing to do.
All parents need to be able to recognize the signs of child abuse. More than 700,000 kids are abused annually in the United States, and Child Protection Services is a crucial resource. But how do you know when to call CPS? What if you call Child Protective Services on another parent and your gut instinct was wrong?
The fear of making such a mistake is why many adults often hesitate to call Child Protective Services. A mere accusation can send a family into disrepair. And the last thing anyone wants is to make an incorrect assumption that breaks up a family or pisses off a parent.
Ellen Smith , a Clinical Associate Professor and Child Welfare Training Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin, knows this impulse all too well. “Child Protective Services,” she says, “has the power to intervene in one of the most fundamental relationships that Americans have: the right for parents to make decisions about how to take care of their own children.”
But Smith stressed that calling Child Protective Services is necessary for some situations — and it’s a call that’s much easier and less devastating than parents might think.
Here, Smith, along with Ayoka Chapple, a social worker with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, walks concerned parents through everything to know about calling CPS on another parent or guardian.
3 Specific Reasons To Call CPS
According to Smith, there are three main reasons to call Child Protective Services.
- Physical abuse. Does the child have signs of injury or do you believe there’s an imminent threat of violence?
- Sexual abuse. Have you seen signs of grooming for abuse , or behavioral signs in the kid such as flinching or raising of hands in a defensive manner? Do you suspect some kind of sexually abusive or exploitative behavior?
- Neglect . Does the child in question live in an unlivable environment? Are they left alone for long periods of time without proper care? A more thorough explanation can be found here .
When Shouldn’t You Call Child Protective Services?
First, Remember that Child Protective Services aren’t the police. If you hear or witness something that seems to be putting a child in immediate danger, call the police. Full stop.
Per Smith, many callers tend to confuse Child Protective Services with law enforcement. “We’re not in the punishment business,” says Smith. “We’re in the business of keeping kids safe in their homes.” It’s the job of the police, not CPS, to investigate calls of abuse or neglect.
When there is evidence of abuse, you need to contact Child Protective Services immediately. But Chapple says you shouldn’t pick up the phone if your claims don’t meet the above criteria. For instance, just because you suspect a father was drinking heavily doesn’t mean he actually has been abusive to a child. You will need to have something semi-substantial to be of service.
That said, you should report red flags. “A child wearing the same dirty clothes for days on end? That may not necessarily be evidence of neglect,” offers Chapple. “It could just mean their washing machine is broken.” In other words, how can you really know what’s abuse or just a weird circumstance?
Chapple and Smith say it’s not a caller’s job to determine whether abuse or neglect occurred. Rather, their job most often is to provide observations and information to CPS that helps social workers keep an eye on certain families or corroborate other people’s claims. So if you think there’s a legitimate reason to call CPS, do so, and let the experts decide whether the conditions are severe enough to warrant intervention.
What Happens After You Call CPS
By placing a call to the national child abuse hotline or connecting with local resources through state numbers , you’re telling an authority that you believe someone may be unfit to be a parent. And both Chapple and Smith say many cases aren’t reported because callers worry about retaliation from unfit parents who may also be unfit humans. Most states, however, allow those calling CPS to report cases anonymously. You might have to provide your name and address for a follow-up, but it won’t be disclosed. If the on-call worker fears immediate danger, then local offices dispense help that day.
Per Chapple, Los Angeles County DCFS receives about 200,000 calls a year but only investigates about 150,000 of them. It’s not because there are too many calls and not enough resources. It’s because the workers are trained professionals who know when a report requires action. They will discuss the case with the caller, explaining whether or not an investigation will follow, and why.
“Maybe it isn’t something that warrants intrusion into people’s lives,” Smith says. “Part of the job of someone answering the phone is to educate the caller.” So calling CPS, even if it doesn’t end in an investigation, can help educate and empower you for the future.
Several states threaten legal repercussions for false alarms about child abuse. But you don’t have to worry about them if you call in good faith — even if you make a report in error. Those rules are in place to discourage people with a grudge from using CPS as a weapon. “Typically where we see that is a neighbor or someone who has a vendetta who calls repeatedly to make false allegations,” says Smith. If you’re calling CPS with a serious suspicion that wasn’t actually a problem, you won’t face a penalty.
What Legislation Is There About Calling Child Services?
Federal legislation gives a general definition of abuse, but some critical details vary from state to state. Although you might not know those details, the trained social worker responding to the call certainly will.
“A common example would be that in some places if a child witnesses domestic violence, that’s considered child abuse and neglect,” says Smith. “In other states, witnessing domestic violence doesn’t constitute child abuse or neglect.”
So even if you find out that what you saw doesn’t meet state criteria, you should still call and let social services figure it out.
This article was originally published on Jan. 18, 2017
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We pay benefits to some students who are between 18 and 19 years old and still in full-time attendance in school. We may ask you to certify that a student is in full-time attendance at your school in order to pay benefits. You can learn the details of this process on our page, For School Officials .
Providing Information About A Child's Disability
We also pay benefits to children who are disabled. In order to determine whether a child is eligible for disability benefits, we may ask you to provide information about his or her academic performance and day-to-day functioning in school.
Sending School Records
If a state Disability Determination Services (DDS) or Social Security needs additional information from a school about a student who has applied for disability benefits, you will receive a letter asking for school records or other information, such as the
- Teacher Questionnaire (Form SSA-5665) ; and
- Request for Administrative Information (Form SSA-5666) .
The information you provide helps the DDS and Social Security determine if the student qualifies for disability benefits.
When you receive a request for school records or other information about a person who has applied for disability, you can choose the method of sending the information that works best for you:
- online to Social Security's secure website; or
- by fax to your state DDS or to Social Security.
The records you send are automatically associated with the applicant's unique disability claim folder.
If you would like to learn more about submitting records online, send an email to [email protected] or call 1-866-691-3061. You may also contact the Professional Relations Office of your state's DDS.
About The Teacher Questionnaire
Social Security uses information from both medical and non-medical sources to decide whether a child qualifies for disability benefits:
- Medical sources include doctors and other health care professionals.
- Non-medical sources include teachers and other people who spend time with the child.
Information from non-medical sources who are familiar with the child is important, because a child's eligibility may be directly related to how well he or she functions at school, at home, or in the community.
When you complete the Teacher Questionnaire (SSA-5665), the information you provide about the way the child functions in school on a day-to-day basis will help us:
- determine the effects of the child's impairment(s) on his or her day-to-day activities;
- compare this child's ability to function with that of other children the same age who have no impairments.
We need this information from you even if the child has been (or was) in your class for only a short time.
Your response is not the only information we will consider when we decide if the child qualifies for disability, but it is very important to us. Your information will help us make our decision.
About The Request For Administrative Information
Social Security uses information from a child's school records, along with all other evidence about the child, to decide whether he or she qualifies for disability benefits.
A state DDS will typically send the Request for Administrative Information to the administrative office in a child's school or to the central administrative office for a school district, depending on where the child's individual academic records are maintained.
The Request for Administrative Information asks questions about the kinds of evaluation, testing, instruction, and special education services the child receives, if any, as well as the kinds of therapy the child may be given. These facts and the information we obtain from copies of evaluations, testing, education plans, and other important school documents, help us form a complete profile of the child and the ways, and extent to which, his or her impairment(s) affects day-to-day functioning.
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Covering Innovation & Inequality in Education
When schools use child protective services as a weapon against parents
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This story about schools and child protective services was produced as part of a series, “Twice Abandoned: How schools and child-welfare systems fail kids in foster care,” reported by HuffPost and The Hechinger Report , a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.
CHICAGO and NEW YORK — Tiffany Banks sat in her living room, a ruby-red wall decorated with family photographs behind her, listing all the ways her life had unraveled over the past year. Her 6-year-old son had been removed from her care for more than a month. She was forced to close an in-home child care business, and she’d been temporarily displaced from her preschool teaching job, which she’d held for 17 years. Her teenage daughter refused to talk to the 6-year-old, blaming him for the family’s troubles.
Banks didn’t blame her little boy. She blamed his school, and the investigators from the state’s child welfare agency they’d sent to her door.
Until last fall, Banks had only good things to say about her children’s school. She’d carefully chosen the K-8 institution, a magnet school across town from her single-family house on Chicago’s West Side, for its academic rigor and diverse student body. Her daughter, now 16, had thrived there, she said, and her middle son did well too. But when her youngest son entered first grade last year, he started misbehaving and making trouble for teachers. “He really struggles behavior-wise,” said Banks, a tall, self-assured woman who’d attended neighborhood public schools in Chicago and desperately wanted something different for her kids. “And at this school they have a low tolerance for it.”
“Calling ACS is one of the tools in [a school’s] repertoire to make the parents comply.”
The school wanted the boy to enroll in classes exclusively for students with disabilities. But Banks felt differently: Despite his behavior problems, for which he was eventually diagnosed with attention deficit and mood disorders, he did well academically, she said. Banks pushed back, going so far as to make complaints to the city’s education board and entering mediation with the school.
This was unfolding around the time the workers from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, or DCFS, began investigating her for alleged child abuse and neglect.
School employees in most states have a legal obligation to report any suspicion of abuse and neglect, and they can play a critical role in helping keep children out of harm’s way. But in nearly three dozen interviews conducted by The Hechinger Report and HuffPost, parents, lawyers, advocates and child welfare officials said that schools occasionally wield this authority in inappropriate ways. Fed up with what they see as obstinate parents who don’t agree to special education services for their child, or disruptive kids who make learning difficult, schools sometimes use the threat of a child-protection investigation to strong-arm parents into complying with the school’s wishes or transferring their children to a new school. That approach is not only improper, but it can be devastating for families, even if the allegations are ultimately determined to be unfounded.
Related: The opioid crisis took their parents, now foster kids left behind are being failed again
Banks’ first brush with DCFS came after the school sent her son to the hospital because he was acting out, she said. They wanted him to receive a psychiatric evaluation, she said, but Banks refused because he already had an appointment with his doctor for the following week. The second time a caseworker investigated her, she said, it was because her son’s doctor had prescribed him a new medication and the school hadn’t been properly notified. Next came an investigation after her middle child wrote a paper that Banks was told contained troubling content. One time, she gave her youngest son a spanking for running away from school. After he told school employees about it the next day, he was removed from her home for more than a month and sent to live with her sister-in-law while the child welfare agency investigated her for abuse, according to Banks. The most recent case was the most incomprehensible to her: Banks said she was investigated for letting her middle child go to school with a bad haircut he’d given himself. The haircut, Banks said she was told by an investigator, could amount to emotional abuse.
As a teacher, Banks herself had sometimes called the state child welfare hotline over the years, when she worried that her students were being abused or neglected. But in her case, she believes the school simply wanted her son gone. Banks said she’d heard from a handful of other parents who’d found themselves in similar situations, all of whom are African-American like her and whose children have disabilities. “All I’m looking for is a good education for my kid,” said Banks. She felt the allegations against her had been twisted and exaggerated to fit a narrative that she was a bad mother. “It severed the relationship that we’re supposed to have as a parent and teacher community.”
“When you go through this, it’s not just a nightmare for you, it’s a nightmare for your child, because the stress level it creates for our family is horrible.”
Emily Bolton, a spokesperson for the Chicago Public Schools, wrote in an email that the agency cannot comment on specific cases but that employees take seriously their responsibility as mandated reporters of abuse and neglect, and that there is no evidence of widespread misuse of the DCFS child-welfare hotline.
But even some former child welfare officials say the practice isn’t as rare as they’d like. “If schools don’t get the parents to agree to what’s being recommended — not all the time, but sometimes — they will call ACS [the Administration for Children’s Services, New York City’s child welfare agency] to pressure them,” said Don Lash, a former lawyer with ACS and author of the book, “ ‘When the Welfare People Come’: Race and Class in the US Child Protection System.”
He and many other experts also note that because of legitimate fears of overlooking kids at risk and vague definitions of abuse and neglect , school workers may sometimes be overzealous, calling in allegations over relatively minor issues such as broken eyeglasses, inappropriate clothing or small scratches. In interviews, more than a dozen lawyers said these investigations disproportionately affect low-income families of color, who tend to live in neighborhoods and attend schools that have bigger police and social services presences and whose children are more likely to show markings of poverty that can be confused with neglect .
Such families also have fewer resources to fight back. When a family in a wealthy Brooklyn neighborhood learned roughly two years ago that their child’s school had initiated an ACS investigation against them, they sued the city education department . Parents from lower-income, majority-black and Latino neighborhoods, few of whom can afford that option, say such investigations can be a regular, even expected, part of parenting. According to ACS data , there were 2,391 abuse and neglect investigations last year in East New York/Starrett City, a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, compared with 255 in the affluent, and far more populous, Upper East Side .
Race, and racial bias, can also play a role in whether families are referred to and investigated by child protective services, research suggests. Nationally, black children are roughly twice as likely as white children to enter foster care , and in New York and Illinois, more than four times as likely . Research reveals racial disparities at every step , from the numbers of calls to the child welfare hotline to the numbers of investigations and court findings of neglect.
“I don’t think I can think of a white family where I’ve ever seen it arise,” Chris Gottlieb, co-director of New York University’s Family Defense Clinic, which represents clients in child welfare cases, said of these types of school-driven investigations.
An intimidation tool?
Accusations that officials with Success Academy Charter Schools have sometimes threatened parents with ACS involvement have been a focal point of legal and civil complaints against the charter school network, New York City’s largest. One lawsuit against a Success Academy school in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn alleges that the school unfairly singled out kids with disabilities for discipline. In an August ruling allowing the suit to proceed, a judge said allegations that school employees called police or child protective services on 4- and 5-year olds, would, if true, help to demonstrate enough “bad faith or gross misjudgment” to sustain the discrimination claims.
“It’s very hard because the whole system isn’t adequate in addressing families’ needs. It would be much easier to call ACS if you could count on them as a holistic agency to families that are marginalized.”
Nicey Givens, one of the parents in the suit, said she was told at least twice that Success might involve ACS if she didn’t quickly pick up her child from school in the middle of the day. The boy, who’d been given diagnoses of attention deficit and oppositional defiant disorder, often misbehaved, and Givens said she felt the school was pressuring her to remove him. Once, she said, the threat to involve ACS came after she’d sent the boy to school in boots instead of his uniform shoes on a cold, wet day.
“Calling ACS is one of the tools in their repertoire to make the parents comply,” said Irene Mendez, a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, one of several groups that filed the suit. A 2016 civil complaint filed with the federal Department of Education includes an allegation that a Success school in Manhattan initiated an ACS investigation against the mother of a 6-year-old as part of an effort to encourage her to send him to another school. Another lawsuit alleges that one of the network’s Bronx schools repeatedly threatened to call ACS to pressure a parent to remove her son from the school.
Success Academy officials dispute the suggestion that any of the network’s schools misuse calls to ACS. Ann Powell, executive vice president of public affairs for the charter network, said she could not comment on the specifics in the lawsuit involving the Fort Greene school because it is ongoing, but said that the network disagreed with the way Givens described her interactions with the school. Success also disputes the allegations made against the Manhattan and Bronx schools. Powell noted that as legally mandated reporters of child abuse, school employees must report any suspicion of abuse and neglect, and that “using that in a threatening way is just not credible.”
A legal obligation
Mandated reporter laws date to the 1960s, and in most states, school employees are among the professionals (along with doctors, social workers and others) obligated to report any suspicion of abuse or neglect. Mandated reporter trainings remind school employees that it’s not their responsibility to decide whether abuse is taking place but simply to pick up the phone if they have a concern, and the child welfare agency will take over from there. Mandated reporters typically have immunity from prosecution for making needless calls, so long as those calls are made in good faith.
“All of the pressure on mandated reporters is to report, report, report,” said Richard Wexler, executive director of the nonprofit National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.
If they fail to report their suspicions, and something terrible happens to the child, they can face fines or even jail time and wind up on the front page of a newspaper. Child welfare is often described as being caught in a scandal-reform cycle , with reports of neglect and entrances to foster care rising after high-profile child deaths. Both Chicago and New York are dealing with the repercussions of recent scandals — Chicago Tribune reporting on sex abuse in schools is spurring fresh resources and protocols, while in New York, calls to the child abuse hotline spiked after the deaths of two young boys under ACS monitoring in 2016.
“Our focus is always on the student, the child,” said Powell, the Success Academy VP. “Not to say that the parent doesn’t matter and those kinds of investigations can’t be awkward and disruptive, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, and there are just too many examples that you read of something that was overlooked.”
School officials also note that they have a unique responsibility in policing child neglect in many states. Child welfare laws in New York and 23 other states (not Illinois) list the denial of education as a form of abuse or neglect . In some parts of New York, school employees are required to initiate educational neglect allegations if a child has a prolonged absence and parents don’t respond to the school. Last year, school personnel in New York City made 16,301 reports to ACS, more than any other type of mandated reporter, according to agency data provided to Hechinger/HuffPost. Of those, about 43 percent involved an allegation of educational neglect.
Related: Teachers are first responders to the opioid crisis
But critics say these too are misused or fall into gray areas of the law. Phillip and Tina Hankins, a couple in the South Bronx, have been tussling with the New York City Department of Education for more than a decade over where and how to educate their son David, who has a disability. They’ve been investigated at least seven times by ACS, including on occasions when they kept David out of class while fighting to get him into what they considered to be a more suitable institution, documentation shows.
“The schools have the right to call in whatever they think is not appropriate,” said Baffour Acheampong, an ACS worker who investigated several of the Hankins’ cases. “But in dealing with Mrs. and Mr. Hankins, what I saw was they have the best interests of their son.”
On the one occasion that ACS substantiated an educational neglect allegation against the Hankinses, a family court judge later overturned that finding. The judge noted that David’s intelligence test scores actually improved when the boy was kept out of school awaiting placement, and that the Hankinses had been doing all they could to fight for educational services. “In light of the Appellants’ year-long battle to get the child into an appropriate school, it is not clear what else they could have done to have enrolled David,” the judge wrote, adding that the agency did not provide a “single credible instance where they failed to exercise the required minimum degree of care.”
In response to questions about this case, spokesperson for the New York City schools Miranda Barbot said that the Department of Education works “closely with families to support them,” and “when there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect, we have clear policies in place that ensure it is reported.”
READ THE SERIES
• The opioid crisis took their parents, now foster kids left behind are being failed again
• Teachers are first responders to the opioid crisis
• Institutions for foster kids aren’t doing enough to educate them
• When schools use child protective services as a weapon against parents
Michael Arsham, executive director of ACS’s Office of Advocacy, which responds to complaints from those involved in the child welfare system, said the agency acknowledges that hotline calls from schools do not always contain serious safety concerns, and it is working more closely with the education department to minimize needless reporting. Two years ago, ACS developed a “tiered response” system with the DOE to prioritize urgent matters and reduce the impact on families of investigations over smaller concerns. “We do want people to call potential dangers to children to our attention,” Arsham said. “But I think it’s fair for us to expect other human services professionals — whether they be in education, health care, anybody who is a mandated reporter — to use their independent judgment and discretion and understand there are consequences to making that call.”
Part of the challenge facing school officials, according to Leila Ortiz, a social worker in New York City public schools, is that ACS is primarily oriented to investigate families, not provide support. Chronic absenteeism could indeed be the canary in the coal mine, she said, signaling deeper troubles within a family. “If you don’t call that in, something could potentially be happening to the student,” she said. “You don’t know, they’re not in the building.”
“But at the same time,” Ortiz added, “you could be adding more stress and damage to a family that already has a lot on their plate. It’s very hard because the whole system isn’t adequate in addressing families’ needs. It would be much easier to call ACS if you could count on them as a holistic agency to families that are marginalized.”
Despite ACS’s efforts to be more sensitive to families facing investigations, parents don’t tend to experience child welfare investigations as even remotely helpful. A New York City parent named Gabriela — who is going by her middle name for this article because her case is still ongoing and she fears retaliation — knows the type of havoc that a call to ACS can wreak on a family. Over the course of her decades-long career as an advocate for immigrants in East Harlem, she has developed an acute understanding of ways in which families can get unfairly wrapped up in an opaque process. Some of these cases have made sense to her. Many more have seemed unfounded, with cultural differences in child-rearing clearly playing a role.
But she never expected to have to use this ACS expertise with her own family.
Last January, when Gabriela received a knock on the door of her Bronx home from an ACS caseworker, she was shocked to learn that she was the subject of a child abuse investigation. Even more surprising was the source of the complaint: her 10-year-old child’s school.
“Our focus is always on the student, the child. Not to say that the parent doesn’t matter and those kinds of investigations can’t be awkward and disruptive, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, and there are just too many examples that you read of something that was overlooked.”
Days prior, Gabriela’s daughter had gone to her teacher with a secret: That her daddy — amid grief from the death of his mother — had started regularly drinking. Gabriela said that she had tried to keep this behavior from her daughter, and thought she hadn’t noticed the new wrinkles in family life.
What happened next was a whirlwind. The child, hysterically crying and scared, was pulled into a room with several adults and questioned about her home life. Under pressure — and wanting to provide the right answer — she said that her mom, Gabriela, had hit her, a charge that Gabriela denies.
Gabriela recognizes that the school was trying to help — and in some ways was carrying out a professional duty — but says they brought a “nightmare to my house.”
A Mexican immigrant who came to America as a teenager, Gabriela has been deeply involved in the education of her daughter at every step. Over the years, Gabriela has taken the time to get to know her daughter’s teachers and school principal, while advocating for the school’s immigrant families who need extra services. How could the school’s leaders, whom Gabriela knew so well, see her as anything less than a devoted parent?
“Why didn’t they use the social worker outside? Why didn’t they call me with concerns? Why did they go straight for the kill and call ACS?” questioned Gabriela.
Related: Institutions for foster kids aren’t doing enough to educate them
She wonders if, in the delicate balancing act of being an involved parent but trying not to overstep her role, she landed on the wrong side of the equation. Or if, in her role as an advocate for immigrant families, she pushed too hard.
She also wonders if this process would have played out differently if she had a different ACS caseworker. (Charges against her were sustained and she is currently amid the appeals process.) This caseworker has asked her on three separate occasions about her immigration status, apparently unable to believe that Gabriela is an American citizen, Gabriela recounts.
“When you go through this, it’s not just a nightmare for you, it’s a nightmare for your child, because the stress level it creates for our family is horrible,” said Gabriela, through tears, one Tuesday afternoon in August.
A representative for the school said that all employees receive training on child abuse and follow state law regarding reporting.
Even for parents who have their records cleared, the pernicious consequences of investigations can be permanent. In 2015, Sandra, a mother of three in Chicago, was investigated by DCFS after her youngest son went to school with what she describes as a minor scratch he sustained from roughhousing with his brothers.
After a DCFS worker arrived on her doorstep, her entire life was thrown under suspicion. The flowers that were a Valentine’s Day gift from her husband, for example? The investigator asked if they were evidence of her husband trying to repair damage from a marital fight.
Ultimately the abuse allegation against Sandra was overturned. But three years and $15,000 in legal fees later, she said she’s still reluctant to meet with or talk to school employees. Recently, the assistant principal at her youngest son’s school called Sandra and her husband in for a meeting to discuss the boy’s behavior, as he’d been getting frustrated in class and acting out. When the administrator suggested she take a stronger disciplinary approach, Sandra pushed back hard: “I am not going to yell at him or touch him because you guys already put me through this one time.”
According to NYU’s Gottlieb, there needs to be a greater understanding of the damage caused by needless investigations and the higher rates at which parents of color are caught up in them. “You want to help parents make better choices for their kids,” she said, “and starting out by saying, ‘You’re abusive,’ is not the way to do it.”
One step forward, say critics of child welfare, could be to modify mandated reporter training — by using it in part to educate people about implicit racial bias, for example. The training that has long been offered to Illinois’ school employees is a one-time online course that takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete and includes no mention of race. Chicago Public Schools says that starting this year, it has begun offering an in-person, annual training.
Related: When foster kids are moved around, schooling becomes an afterthought
Meanwhile, experiments to reduce racial and socioeconomic inequities in the child welfare system have shown some success. New York’s Nassau County was able to significantly reduce the numbers of black kids put in foster care after placing an emphasis on workforce diversity among human services employees and withholding children’s demographic information from staff meetings. A second New York county, Onandaga, began removing fewer black kids from their parents after investing in afterschool and other school-based programs .
There were 2,391 abuse and neglect investigations last year in East New York/Starrett City, a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, compared with 255 in the affluent, and far more populous, Upper East Side
In New York City, ACS is rolling out a new approach to responding to low-risk calls that focuses on assessing which services fragile families need, said ACS’s Arsham.
Neil Skene, a spokesperson for the Illinois DCFS, wrote in an email that while a child welfare investigation is a “painful experience for anyone,” the agency feels it has a “particular obligation to be responsive to the concerns and professional knowledge of mandated reporters.” Skene added: “We are starting to work with local communities to identify cultural and racial disparities and how we can respond better.”
Out of options
Change can’t happen soon enough for families embroiled in school-driven investigations. For them, transferring schools can feel like the only way out.
In 2015, after the harassment Givens says she endured at Success Academy, she sent her son to a different elementary school nearby. “From first to fourth grade, no problems, no incidents, no suspensions, no fighting, no nothing,” she said.
Gabriela’s daughter has also switched schools, after feeling uncomfortable and mistrustful of the adults who called ACS on her parents. “She went from asking me, ‘Please don’t take me to school, can I stay with you?’ ” Gabriela said of her daughter, “to getting up in the morning, getting ready, excited to participate.”
Banks considered removing her two boys from their magnet school after the child-protection investigations began. Relatives, colleagues, even her kids’ pediatrician — they all warned that the hotline calls wouldn’t stop until her children left the school. Because she worked with kids, the investigations were particularly worrisome for her , she said, even though ultimately none of the cases against her had been substantiated.
But at the same time, she was reluctant. The magnet school offered four foreign languages, math teams and movie nights, things she worried her kids wouldn’t get at their neighborhood school. “I feel like they are winning,” she said. “I understand his behavior is poor,” she said of her youngest son, “but he does deserve to be at a school where he can get a good education.”
Plus, by the time she came to grips with the unrelenting nature of the investigations, the December deadline for applying to specialized schools had already passed. She looked into private schools before deciding they were too expensive.
This fall, feeling out of options, she sent her boys back to the magnet school. On the second day of the semester, she texted: “I am praying it is better this year.”
This story about schools and child protective services was produced by The Hechinger Report , a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter .
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I’m in need of a lawyer my two children with special needs ADHD has been neglected and abused by CPS it’s was reported investigated and the Teacher resigned , before resigning the School retaliated and called Dcfs on me several times .
I am currently going through something similar with my son’s school and would like to reach out. They’ve harassed me with dfacs on more than one occasion but the most recent is over a parasite they found in my son’s stool but no one even notified me or his father and now it seems like they are trying to pressure me into signing up for a parent aide program. Can the school legally force that? I live in Rome GA
Hi my name is Jennifer my daughters in 8th grade and her old teacher has been asking her to move in with her and telling her all kinds of things to make her want to live with her but my daughter refuses so one day last week 04/19/2021 my daughter was pulled to the side by the teacher not her teacher but was asked if she was still dating a guy she been dating for over a year now well the teacher just kept telling her he was worthless he is a loser and always will be and much more well my daughter came home from school crying and wouldn’t tell us why she was upset well finally later that night I got her to open up about what was wrong then she told me what the teacher had said so I wrote that teacher politely asked her to not give my daughter relationship advise or any advise just stay out of it if we as parents find a problem then we will decide not her so that was sent to her 04/23/2021 and then today I get a visit from CPS on neglect of my child said she was not eating and we didn’t cook or take care of her well in my town we are plaques with drug addicts and kids growing up without there parents all because of the opioids and neglect well we aren’t rich we are poor but everything we have we put towards are children they never go without but yet this teacher is trying to destroy a family that’s not drug addicts not neglect our children this is the second or third time we have had a visit from CPS because the school would see a troubled teen just trying to figure themselves out they see abuse ? If you have a teen they are emotional and hormonal and when there having a bad day or been depressed because what a teacher had said we are being treated like we did something wrong when I’m fact it was the teacher gaslighting my daughter. I just don’t understand how a school or a teacher someone kids trust and as a parent you tell them to trust teachers just to have a teacher try and rip your daughter out of your home for there own isn’t right what so ever. During these times you would think schools would be the place where your child is safe other then home but how can it be safe at school if a teacher is emotionally destroying my daughter I have filed a complaint with the school about this teacher but what makes a teacher want to take your child away from you for themselves and your daughter is afraid she is trying to get her taking now we will be found innocent AGAIN but how do you make this stop what are my options it’s not right not fair and teachings my kid not to trust teachers at school cause they will try and take them away now CPS involved and we have to go threw the stress of proven ourselves. Something needs to be done with that whole system the schools and CPS they ruin families without hesitation even when they don’t have the full story your guilty untill proven innocent we are god loving people and I teach my children to be fair ,honest ,respectful and kind . So how do I teach them that there are bad teachers and good when I can’t tell the difference myself how do we keep our kids and families safe when others try and break your family apart with all that’s going on with COVID we are all already stressed then we have this just adds to the stress and makes my children worry they will be taken even tho I told them they won’t take them all they ever hear around here is broken families all in this town this was out of retaliation from the teacher could someone please help me do something about this it’s wrong and sometimes they don’t always know best most theses CPS workers don’t have kids but think they no better then someone who has raised kids for 21 years I have 5 children total and this is the first with someone wanting to steal my daughter away .
I’ve been harrased for over 4 years with my son with preventive services and ACS. THEY wanted an update of my son’s new high school and I refuse to give them information on him and his new location. How can I refuse to give them any new information? We live in the Bronx If any advocacy available please email me. Thank you!
Mi nombre es jose valentin,soy Padre soltero y tengo la custoria de mis dos hijas y un hijo desde 2012 ,Emily es especial las escuelas me an acusado tres ves y dos tuvieran que seral los casos en menos de 30 dias ahora lo an ello porque me canbiaro la escuela de Emily sin mi conosimieto o mi consemtimiento. La itoria es larga. THE new york time en 12/25/2012 hiso un reportaje.Caring for a Toddler Who Rules the House.
This is not because she or her sons race. This happened to my family also. Its the FACT that the schools use child services to punish parents and children alike. Our case took many years because the school kept making up lies to get rid of me and my kids. They refused to let us be transferred to any other school and tortured us for nearly 5 years until i took legal steps and got the principle fired. The new principle had no issues and found no reason to make issues even commended me on being a “great dad that fights for my children. ”
Then once a case is opened our faulty system actually gives cash bonuses to child protective services workers for each new child they take from a home. Dont believe me? Look up the details yourself it can all be googled. cps workers in most states are only supposed to handle around 30 cases at a time and most are taking 100 or more at a time. ( already breaking there own rules) then many cps workers will openly say they “like to keep cases open for 6 months or more” this is because they get cash rewards for taking these children and having them long enough for the state to start charging child support this brings the courts fees and fines making millions a year under faulse or illegal pretext while having legal immunity for the most part and zero accountability. Please look all this up google a few of these facts and you will find the actual data sheets showing the uptick of cases after the cash incentives where added and the number of children taken and many hurt or killed while in cps custody or paid foster care. The fact is the schools cps and the courts make millions through cps cases started by the schools.
I am responding in reference to the above, named Jim and his letter.
I have not heard about this particular snide endeavor however I do know that the public schools have to have a certain amount of students that go a specific amount of days to get their state funding. This makes for alot of child abuse cases in which I have and still am caught up in. I have chosen my life path actually all due to how the public system works in it’s entirety. The government is only out for one thing and it doesn’t care how it gets it. They use children as a means the most, given they have no voice and can be swept under the rug easier. I am choosing to be a voice for children in particular juveniles. I am striving to be a youth self empowerment/motivational speaker, attending elementary, middle school, foster homes and juvenile delinquent facilities are my main focus and moving along from that point. Our children are our future and if we look at our children now (I am talking about YouTube and Tik Tok idiots that influence our children) then we are doomed for any improvement within socialism, racial issues, etc. The government is Using and abusing our children that are vulnerable from birth all through adult hood. Foster care abuse usually ends them up in juvenile abuse, released at 18 to act in criminal behavior and then discriminated by cops while being pursued. This could be prevented if we cared more for our children, their needs instead of adults that abuse for their power and money. I don’t believe enough parents know their rights and how much power we have outside of the public school system. Homeschool is the way to go until every child has a web cam on them at all times during school will I ever feel safe to allow my children in their hands.
This is true CPS is using dcfs as a power to go against parents that are looking for help for their special need child . My son was only 5 when he started hes first year in school. He would cry and throw himself on the floor because he would want to go with me home. Hes kindergarten teacher and the school administration decided one day to put him on a behavior hospital without me knowing what was going on. I got to my sons school to pick him up and i got called inside just to get the news of him being put in a behavior hospital. I tried to refuse but they told me if i didn’t comply with them they would call dcfs. I was scared my baby would be taken away so i complied. Once my son was in the hospital i couldn’t sleep i would spend days crying and my heart would break every time he would talk to me and say he wanted to come home. After weeks of him being hold in that hospital i got help and hes case was evaluated by another behavioral specialist . They came to a conclusion that due to hes age cps shouldn’t of put him in a behavioral hospital due to my baby just had turned 5 .
Hello I am a mother of 10 children Acs was called on me in 2020 for Doe neglect during covid I had a mental break after the Acs phone call and now my children are in the system one have been left on a bus for 2 hours one was recently burnt and they are refusing to move him from the foster parents one has come to the visit with a black eye and neither of the foster parents are following protocol nor letting the agency know about what took place I am doing everything they have asked of me to do for my children to return home none of the agencies follow guidelines nor what’s being told of them during the court conference I found out I was pregnant during the time and they also removed my baby from my care as well and added him to the case this has been going on for 17 months now and now I am on trial
I’ve seen this kind of thing happen first hand to a white family.
A friend of mine would occasionally visit my farm during which time I would have plenty of time to engage with her children. One day, however, she told me that one child’s school told her that they believe the child had ADHD and that if the parent didn’t consent to medications they would use CPS to remove the child. The problem was that I was certain this child didn’t have ADHD. I spent enough time with the child to know that for certain. Instead, I suggested, that maybe the child was suffering from silent siezures (also known as absence seizures). I explained that the outward symptoms of silent siezures are often misdiagnosed as inattentive ADHD by persons who don’t spend enough time observing the child in question. I referred the family to a good neurologist I knew and a month later the school was forced to back off because it was confirmed that the child did indeed suffer from silent siezures.
For those who don’t understand the difference: In a silent seizure a child will appear to stare off into space for 10 to 30 seconds with no apparant reason. There’s no jerking or loss of conciousness. It’s this symptom that often gets it confused with inattentive ADHD, but the difference is that while you can get the attention of a child with ADHD in some manner such as clapping your hands you can’t get the attention of a child in the middle of a silent seizure. Even if someone knows to test for this it needs to be tested more than once because it could be a coincidence that the seizure ended when you clap your hands. Another key difference, and an easier one to notice, is that a child with silent seizures will stop whatever they are doing – even walking or playing – then resume the activity the moment it ends. In contrast a child with ADHD will continue what they are doing will stop when it no longer captures their focus. It may be disrupted because they get bored of it or because something more interesting comes along.
Had I not been there the child could have died. If a young child with silent siezures is treated as if they have ADHD the drugs they are given will not be effective. This typically results in an ever increasing dosage until the child dies of a drug overdose. It happens far too often. Sure, children often get blood work to make sure their livers aren’t damaged, but the blood work can be infrequent and a complication can occur rather quickly especially due to their small body size.
I find it abhorrent that a school can force a child to take drugs under the threat of CPS especially when that school doesn’t bother to spend enough time to be able to tell the difference between ADHD and Silent Siezures. They shouldn’t be allowed to do that. Sure, they’ll often refer a child to a Psychiatrist, but a one hour session with a person not trained to recognize the difference isn’t enough time to make that determination and most families are not informed of their right to seek a second opinion. The failure to properly test these children constitutes medical neglect in my opinion. The tendency to then order drugs without a proper medical evaluation constitutes attempted medical abuse in my opinion.
A lack of oversight clearly contributes to the harm children are put through. That’s why when I become a parent I will be home schooling my child. My state has education restrictions, but my education happens to be superior to most teachers at any school so I’d qualify. It’s sad that I can’t trust that a child will be free from abuse if placed in public school though and it’s especially sad that CPS – whose job is supposed to protect children – is used to facilitate abuse.
Single mum of 4, ages 19, 13, 10, 3 My 10 yr old suffers with CKD and Autism, and against my better judgment he started a new school after we moved, and for a month he has tried to run away and come home from that school almost every day., we live down the block. Protocol is for the teachers to call me and the principal so we can help deescalate the situation. October 2nd 2023 the teachers broke protocol and his blood pressure was elevated to 154/100 and climbed to 173/120. And since I already had CWS case because school systems are not the only ones that like to abuse their power. I disagreed with one particular Nephrologist about my son’s medical stand point and she called CWS and blatantly lied to make her case. I explained that the doctor was lying and the proof was in his medical records but the worker said that was ok and they have to listen to Nephrologist because she was a doctor. Since then and this incident I’ve been completely blamed and all truth has gone out the window. I’ve never seen so many professionals lie to cover themselves before. My son was removed from my care and given to my mother. I’m happy my son is safe but I still miss him everyday. From Oct 2nd 2023 to Jan 17 2024 he was held at hospital because of his CKD and then removed till he is reunited with me in 3-6 months according to CWS “if all goes well” what ever that means. My son was never abused by me and I fought hard to keep him safe and healthy but I failed. I would like to sue the hospital, the CWS and the school for the damage caused to all my children and myself but because of corruption here and lack of a million dollars I cannot get a lawyer to represent us to save my family.
I am a woman of color and have been railroaded in the system So I too agree with everyone above who are dedicated parents that are being bullied and abused by all three systems. The corruption in Hawaii is no different and in any case is worse than any other state. This is not Paradise! I’m definitely homeschooling my younger two. And I definitely know this would not have happened if I homeschooled my 10 yr old too.
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Cops and No Counselors
How the lack of school mental health staff is harming students.
The U.S. Department of Education recently required every public school to report the number of social workers, nurses, and psychologists employed for the first time in history. Data about school counselors had been required previously, but this report provides the first state-level student-to-staff ratio comparison for these other school-based mental health personnel, along with school counselors. It reviews state-level student-to-school-based mental health personnel ratios as well as data concerning law enforcement in schools. The report also reviews school arrests and referrals to law enforcement data, with particular attention to disparities by race and disability status. A key finding of the report is that schools are under-resourced and students are overcriminalized.
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Community schools are working to boost student performance by increasing access to social services
Community schools work to boost student performance by meeting their non-academic needs.
Schools don't operate in a silo—events in students' lives before and after school can have a big effect on how well they perform in school. To help address issues facing students related to the persistent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic inequalities, and achievement gaps, an increasing number of educational facilities are turning to a framework that provides families with responsive support and services.
The "community school model" offers students and families wraparound services in support of nutrition, mental health, housing, and other nonacademic needs of the neighborhood through partnerships with community-based organizations like the Y and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
For the 2023-24 school year, 60% of public schools in the U.S. leveraged the community school model , up from 45% the year prior. Studies show this model is making a difference— a Learning Policy Institute review of 143 research studies found that this strategy can close achievement gaps for disadvantaged students and gives children more opportunities to succeed.
Numerade analyzed National Center for Education Statistics data to measure the growth of community schools and explore the connection between access to social services and academic performance.
Community schools provide services based on student—and family—population needs. This is primarily done through the work of a support specialist who coordinates resources for students and their families. The family support specialist at Cleveland's Almira Elementary School , for example, maintains a resource closet with donated clothes and hygiene supplies for students, refers families to organizations that can help with bill payment, and acts as a sounding board.
At San Diego Unified School District , community schools offer a myriad of services including in-school food pantries, dental services, counseling, and parenting classes in response to social and learning issues that were worsened by the pandemic. The school district anticipates this school model will boost attendance, grades, and graduation rates for its 121,000 students, 7% of whom are unhoused .
Services available to students are as varied as their needs
One tenet of the community school model is that no two schools are alike because no two communities are alike—and communities and their needs may even change over time, such as Benjamin Franklin High School in South Baltimore, which estimates its immigrant population will increase from 18% in 2015 to 43% in 2024 and will have evolved needs.
Transforming a school into a "one-stop shop" can alleviate issues students may have with access to services and learning opportunities.
A program in Florida partners school districts with universities or colleges, community-based nonprofits, and health care providers to create campuses that offer on-site tutoring, after-school programs, and access to health services. A junior high school in Anaheim, California , created a two-room community center on campus that offers a food pantry and mobile dental services every month.
In Taos, New Mexico , community schools cover basic needs for low-income students—including laundry services and showers; home visits and multilingual services provide additional support, and an after-school gardening program teaches students and their families about nutrition.
According to a 2023 study in the American Educational Research Journal , meeting these social and socioeconomic needs—also called the social determinants of learning—helps families, educators, and school districts put students in a better position to learn. In fact, researchers said, "the source of many differences in students' learning opportunities will be out-of-school factors, such as systemic racism, housing (in)security, fluency in the language of instruction, air and water quality, and so forth." Schools designed to address these issues are on the best track to close the opportunity gap and make education accessible to students regardless of their needs.
Additional writing by Kelly Glass. Story editing by Nicole Caldwell. Copy editing by Tim Bruns.
This story originally appeared on Numerade and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.
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State School Counseling Mandates & Legislation
Alabama Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: 1:500-749 (see other) Source of mandate: Legislative, state foundation program Who funds mandate? State Other: For elementary and secondary schools with fewer than 500 students, there may only be one half-time school counselor employed. For elementary and secondary schools with 500-749 students, there must be at least one school counselor employed. For elementary schools with 750-999 students, there must be at least 1.5 school counselors employed. For secondary schools with 750-999 students, there must be at least two school counselors employed. For elementary schools with 1,000-1,249 students, there must be at least two school counselors employed. For secondary schools with 1,000-1,249 students, there must be at least 2.5 school counselors employed. For elementary schools with 1,250-1,499 students, there must be at least 2.5 school counselors employed. For secondary schools with more than 1,250 students, there must be at least three school counselors employed. For elementary schools with more than 1,500 students, there must be least three school counselors employed. Legislation Alaska (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Repealed rule Vocational guidance and placement rule Certification rule Advanced certification rule Emergency certification rule Arizona Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Note: Although there is no law mandating school counselors or fixing the ratio of students to school counselors, the positions are funded out of the school district's budget, and the district governing board makes the decision about how many counselors to hire. Certification rule Arkansas Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated School Counselor-to-student ratio: 1:450 Source of mandate: Arkansas State Standard - Annotated Code of Public School Student Services Act of 1991 Who funds mandate? State Mandate (see p. 14) California Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Mandated cchool counselor-to-student ratio: None Source of mandate: Education Code Who funds mandate? State Budget Act Other: The California State Budget Act of 2006 (AB 1802, Chapter 79) amended the California Education Code to ensure that students in grades 7-12 receive counseling services Certification rule Comprehensive school counseling Rule Funding rule School counseilng certification (see section 6) Colorado Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Other: Colorado is a local control state, which means many pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public education decisions (issues of curriculum, personnel, school calendars, graduation requirements, classroom policy, etc.) are made by the 176 school district administrations and their school boards. Certification rule (see p. 165) Connecticut (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Certification rule (see p. 111) Mandate Delaware Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Other: Under state board of education regulations (not state law), school districts must have a district plan for counseling based on the ASCA National Standards for Student Competencies. This plan has to be implemented by a state-certified school counselor. No money is attached. Certification rule (elementary) Certification rule (secondary) Comprehensive school counseling programs rule District of Columbia Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated School Counselor-to-student ratio: Every school must have at least one school counselor on staff; each middle and secondary school must also have a career counselor on staff as well. Source of mandate: Board of Education Who funds mandate? District Certification rule Florida Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Other: Legislation requires all districts to have a written guidance plan. Districts are also required to complete an online guidance report, which includes information about the implementation of their guidance programs. There is a guidance plan mandate but no mandate for school counselors. Certification rule Georgia Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: 1:450 Source of mandate: State law Who funds mandate? State, with supplemental funding from local districts. The state funds are allocated per full-time employee, but education funding law allows local systems to move funds and school counselor numbers around as needed. Certification rule Nonrenewable certificate rule Renewable certificate rule Hawaii Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No* Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: N/A Source of mandate Hawaii BOE Policy 2130 Who funds mandate? School counseling is funded by individual schools through the state's Weighted Student Formula. The Weighted Student Formula distributes funds to schools based on individual needs and additional money is given to educate students with identified characteristics that impact their learning. *Other: There is no state statute that mandates school counseling; however, Hawaii has a Board of Education policy that states "schools shall provide a program of guidance, counseling, and related services as necessary for the academic, personal, social and career development of each student." Comprehensive program rule Idaho Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated School Counselor-to-student ratio: None Source of mandate Administrative rule Who funds mandate? State Other: Statute reads, “In each Idaho school, a comprehensive guidance program will be provided as an integral part of the educational program.” It also states, “No later than grade eight (8) all students will develop parent-approved student learning plans for their high school and post-high school options” Read the mandate and more information Certification rule Comprehensive school counseling program rule Elementary guidance rule (section 7) Career guidance rule Illinois Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Other: School counseling programs and low school counselor-to-student ratio are recommended by the state board of education; however the local school districts have the authority to determine their needs related to school counseling services. Illinois does mandate that students have access to student services when needed (school nurses, school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, etc.) Certification rule Indiana Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8: No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12: Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: Grades 1-6, 1:600; Grades 7-12, 1:300 (recommended, not mandated) Source of mandate: State board of education Who funds mandate? Unfunded Indiana Administrative Code: 511 IAC 4-1.5-5 Student assistance services 511 IAC 4-1.5-4 Educational and career services 511 IAC 4-1.5-2 Personnel (Recommended Ratios) 511 IAC 15-6-34 School services: school counselor (Licensing) School Counseling Competencies for Students
Iowa Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated School Counselor-to-student ratio: School districts must be working toward a 1:350 ratio for all levels Source of mandate: Legislated Who funds mandate? Local school district Certfication rule School-to-career rule Kansas Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Certification rule Kentucky (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No* Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No* Mandated School Counselor-to-student ratio: Local decision Is mandate being considered?: No *There is no mandate; however, Kentucky schools are governed by local School-Based Decision Making Councils (SBDM) composed of parents, school staff and administration. Per 702 KAR 3:246, the SBDM makes the decision regarding hiring of counselors. Certification rule School-to-careers funding rule Louisiana Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: 9-12, 1:450 Source of mandate: Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Who funds mandate? State Read the mandate School-counselor-to-student ratio and comprehensive school counseling program rule Maine Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: K-8, 1:350; 9-12, 1:250 Source of mandate State board of Education Who funds mandate? Included in proportion of state funding to local districts Certification rule (see p. 23) General certification rules Comprehensive guidance plan rule (see p. 16) Maryland (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: Ratio is not mandated Source of mandate: Maryland Board of Education’s State Code of Regulations Who funds mandate? State Other: COMAR 13.A.05.05.02 requires that the school counseling and guidance program be a planned, systematic program of counseling, consulting, appraisal, information and placement services for all students, grades K-12. Read the mandate Certification rule Certification of director of guidance rule Student services rule Comprehensive school counseling program rule Massachusetts Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Certification rule Michigan (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? Those hired to serve in the role of a school counselor in Michigan should hold one of the credentials noted here . Certification rule Minnesota Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No School counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? Yes, in February 2007 a bill was proposed to give funding to all districts in need for student services (including school counseling) for their K-12 schools. This bill has been tabled and has not passed into law. Certification rule Mississippi Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No* Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: One half-time school counselor position is required at each secondary school. Source of mandate: Legislative action Who funds mandate? State Other: *Students in elementary schools must have access to student support services provided by a school counselor, school social worker, school nurse or other student support personnel. Read the mandate Certification rule (see p. 40) Comprehensive services rule Student-to-school-counselor ratio rule (see p. 16) Missouri Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: 1:500 (required); 1:301-375 (recommended) Source of mandate: Accreditation process (not legislated) Who funds mandate? State funds/general revenue, but there are no specific funds set aside. Certification rule Montana Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: 1:400 Source of mandate Administrative code Who funds mandate? State and local Read the mandate Certification rule (see p. 42) Student-to-school-counselor ratio rule (see p. 30) Nebraska Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: K-5, none*; 6-12, - When enrollment in a school hits 450, one school counselor must be assigned. Thereafter, an additional one-half time appropriately endorsed person is assigned for each 225 students. Source of mandate: State Board of Education (Rule 10) Who funds mandate? Local districts Other: * School districts having 300 or more students in the elementary grades have guidance programs or services available for the elementary students. The procedures and ratios are determined by the local school district. Read the mandate Nevada Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes, NRS 389.180 requires each school district to offer occupational guidance and counseling. Is a mandate being considered? Due to severe financial conditions in the state, mandated K-6 counseling services are not being considered at this time. Mandated school counselor-to-Sstudent ratio? There is no state mandated ratio although the state does review the information at the state level. The required counseling services under NRS 389.180 are tempered with the wording in Section 4 that states "within the limits of money made available to the district by the legislature for that purpose." Source of mandate: NRS 389.180 Funding for mandate: The state legislature includes funding within the distributive school account to school districts to support the counseling services at the 7-12 grade levels. Read the mandate Certification rule New Hampshire Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated School Counselor-to-student ratio: K-5, 1:500; 6-12, 1:300 Source of mandate: State Eeducation administrative code Who funds mandate? Local school board Other: For secondary schools with more than four school counselors, a director of school counseling must be hired to oversee the program. Read the mandate Certification rule (section 507.7) Comprehensive school counseling program rule Student-to-school-counselor ratio rule New Jersey Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes* Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes* Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: None Source of mandate: State administrative code Who funds mandate? Local school board Other: *Although school counseling programs are mandated in New Jersey, there is no rule mandating that school counselors themselves be employed in schools. Read the mandate (N.J.A.C.6A:8-3.2) Certification rule (see p. 232) Career counseling and education rule (p. 16) New Mexico (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: None Source of mandate: Administrative code Who funds mandate? Non-funded Other: The state of New Mexico does not have counseling language in statute. However, the administrative code states: “Districts are required to provide the following programs: health education, physical education, health services and school counseling.” The administrative code also states: “Districts must provide or make provisions for support service programs that strengthen the instructional program. Required support programs are library/media, school counseling, health services, and athletic and activity programs.” Certification rule Student services rule Certification, testing requirement New York Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Other: The Board of Education law says that each school district or board of cooperative educational services may employ qualified persons for the purpose of providing vocational and educational guidance for minors. Read the law (click EDN, Article 93 and then law 4605) Educational and vocational guidance rule Career education rule North Carolina (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No* Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No* Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: None* Source of mandate: State Board of Education Policy and related state legislation Who funds mandate? Primarily state funds, but also federal and local budgets *School counselor-to-student ratio of 1:250 is recommended, but not mandated. Professional standards are approved by the state Board of Education with required use of the related evaluation rubric. Legislation mandates school counselor time at the 80/20 ratio and forbids school counselors from serving as coordinators of standardized testing. Professional standards policy and certification/licensure Legislation North Dakota (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes for 7-8, also for K-6 beginning with the 2022-2023 school year Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: Currently, grades 7-12 in public schools must have one full-time school counselor for every 300 students. Starting with the 2022-2023 school year, grades K-6 in public schools will also be required to have one full-time school counselor for every 300 students. Schools with fewer than 300 students can prorate the number ( i.e.: 150 students would require a half-time school counselor, etc.) Source of mandate: Century Code 15.1-06-19 Who funds mandate? Each public school district receives state per student money if accredited. Read the mandate Certification rule Ohio Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Certification rule Oklahoma (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Services are required, but it's not required that they be provided by school counselors Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: K-5, None; 6-12, 1:450 Source of mandate Legislative Who funds mandate? State Comprehensive school counseling program accreditation Oregon Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes* Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes* Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: None* Source of mandate: State administrative rule Who funds mandate? Non-funded *Other: Each school district in Oregon is mandated to maintain a comprehensive guidance and counseling plan that serves students K-12. In addition, each school district is mandated to maintain a licensed staff. The number of staff is not mandated but there is a recommendation to follow ASCA's recommended ratio of 1:250 or better. The mandate can be found in Oregon's administrative rules. Comprehensive school counseling program rule Pennsylvania Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered: No Certification rule Student services rule Confidentiality rule Rhode Island Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes* Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes* Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: None Source of mandate: State board of education rule Who funds mandate? State and local Other: *School counseling programs are mandated in K-12, but school counselors themselves are not mandated in every school. Certification rule South Carolina (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: K-5, 1:800; 6-12, 1:300 (Ratio includes certified school counselors and career specialists with CDF certification) Source of mandate: State board regulation; EEDA legislation Who funds mandate? State Other: EEDA legislation to be fully implemented by 2011: School counselors shall limit their activities to guidance and counseling and may not perform administrative tasks. Certification rule Student-to-school-counselor ratio rule (middle and high, see section 59-59-100) Comprehensive career guidance plan rule (see section 59-59-40) South Dakota (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No Is a mandate being considered? No Certification rule Tennessee Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: K-6, 1:500 (recommended for state funding); 7-12, 1:350 (recommended for state funding) Source of mandate: Tennessee Better Education Program via Board of Education Who funds mandate? State (70 percent) and local (30 percent) Read the mandate Certification rule (see p. 264-268) Student-to-school-counselor ratio rule (see p. 4) Texas Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No mandate to hire a school counselor in Texas; however, if school counselors are hired they must meet state standards. Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? No mandate to hire a school counselor in Texas; however, if school counselor are hired they must meet state standards. Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: None Is mandate being considered?: No Other: State law requires school counselors to take on certain roles and responsibilities, but it does not require a school counselor in every school or any specific ratio. Certification rule Utah (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-6? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 7-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: 1:350 in grades 7-12 with approved programs Source of mandate: State legislature Who funds mandate? State Other: School counseling programs are defined and mandated for all students in grades 7-12. If school districts do not show evidence of comprehensive school counseling program via rigorous evaluations (at least every three years), then they will not receive state funds. Read the mandate Vermont Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: Elementary, 1:400; secondary, 1:300 Source of mandate: State Board of Education Who funds mandate? Local Read the mandate Certification rule Student-to-school-counselor rule (see p. 24) Virginia (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: For school counselors: a. Effective with the 2020-2021 school year, in elementary schools, one hour per day per 75 students, one full-time at 375 students, one hour per day additional time per 75 students or major fraction thereof; in middle schools, one period per 65 students, one full-time at 325 students, one additional period per 65 students or major fraction thereof; in high schools, one period per 60 students, one full-time at 300 students, one additional period per 60 students or major fraction thereof. b. Effective with the 2021-2022 school year, local school boards shall employ one full-time equivalent school counselor position per 325 students in grades kindergarten through 12. c. Local school divisions that employ a sufficient number of school counselors to meet the school counselor staffing requirements set forth in this subdivision may assign school counselors to schools within the division according to the area of greatest need, regardless of whether such schools are elementary, middle, or high schools. Source of mandate: Legislative action Who funds mandate? State Virginia Code regarding ratios Suggested Best Practices on the Provision of Direct Counseling Services School Counselor Summative Performance Report Document (Word) Washington (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? No Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes School counselor-to-student ratio: At least one school counselor in each secondary school is required. Source of mandate: Administrative Code Who funds mandate? State Other: School counselors themselves are not mandated in grades 9-12; however, "a minimum of one full-time person, or equivalent, shall be provided for counseling and guidance services in each secondary school." Read the mandate Certification rule School counselor role in public schools rule Specialized services rule West Virginia (updated 1/22) Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated School Counselor-to-student ratio: None Source of mandate Administrative Code Who funds mandate? State and District Other: Shall spend at least 80% of work time in a direct counseling relationship with pupils, and shall devote no more than 20% of the work day to administrative activities, provided that such activities are counselor-related. Read the mandate Certification rule (see 10.9.a.1) Comprehensive school counseling program rule Wisconsin Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: None Source of mandate: Legislative action Who funds mandate? Local Certification rule (see p. 16) Wyoming Is school counseling mandated for grades K-8? Yes (students must have access)* Is school counseling mandated for grades 9-12? Yes (students must have access)* Mandated school counselor-to-student ratio: None Source of mandate: Legislative action Who funds mandate? Non-funded Other: The district shall ensure students have access to guidance services providing all students with assistance in developing and monitoring their educational and career plans through a structured, systematic individual planning system. Therefore, although access to guidance services are mandated, school counselors themselves are not. Read the mandate School counseling services rule
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Every Minnesota student should have access to school-based mental health services
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At present, one in five children in Minnesota have a diagnosed mental or behavioral health condition, and close to half of them receive little or no care; most of them are from underserved communities with limited access to mental health services. The state’s long-standing mental health professional shortage doesn’t help, with 74 out of 87 counties in Minnesota regarded as mental health shortage areas by the federal government. As a result, school-aged children in need of mental services have to endure prolonged wait times to see a community mental health provider.
As an aspiring child and adolescent neuropsychiatrist and someone who lost a close friend to suicide as a consequence of an unresponsive student counseling service, I see a school-based mental health service model (SBMH) as the best solution to address this problem. An SBMH program will bring mental health services to students where they are, eliminating significant barriers to access.
A recent study led by professor Ezra Golberstein of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota shows that SBMH programs, when implemented, improve access to mental health services to students by 8% and reduces the attempted suicide rate by 15%. Not to mention, SBMH serves as a primary source of mental health services for children from underserved communities. Approximately 50% of children receiving school-based mental health services have never accessed mental health services in the past, with 45% of them having a significant mental health concern. Thus, given how effective an SBMH model is in improving students’ access to mental health, why isn’t it implemented in all schools in Minnesota?
The SBMH program receives significant funding from the federal and state governments. Yet many schools report significant challenges adopting it, pointing to provider shortage as a major obstacle. Some schools even report having unfilled vacancies for mental health providers. Minnesota ranks 10th in states with the most considerable shortage of mental health professionals.
The state currently has only 250 child and adolescent psychiatrists, which results in an approximate ratio of one psychiatrist to 1,000 youths with significant mental health concerns. The workforce shortage is even more pronounced in rural Minnesota, which has 27 child and adolescent psychiatrists — making access to comprehensive mental health services in rural Minnesota unattainable for most. But how can Minnesota address the long-standing mental health provider shortage?
The healthcare system historically responds well to financial incentives. Therefore, an upfront tuition scholarship program for aspiring mental health professionals would be very effective in developing a robust mental health workforce in Minnesota. Some states have even developed initiatives that offer full-ride scholarships to students accepted into a masters-level program for mental health professionals. Washington State’s Behavioral Health Workforce Development Initiative, which grants up to $51,000 scholarships to students accepted into a Master of Social Work program, has been pivotal in addressing the state’s long-standing mental health workforce shortage.
Minnesota has made laudable efforts to make education affordable for its residents; the recently passed North Star Scholarship Program makes college free for young adults from low-income families.
The government can look back on the success of previous higher education investments and confidently commit to funding a government-sponsored education program to train students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to becoming mental health professionals. By eliminating the financial barrier of an expensive clinical training program, qualified students from all walks of life can enroll in a mental health graduate program, thereby strengthening the number and diversity of providers in the state, which will facilitate tailored mental health services that meet the needs of each patient.
Key stakeholders have questioned the practicality of the SBMH model. Parents will argue that schools should be schools, school administrators will say that they lack the capacity and time to provide such services to their students, and community providers can make a case for the potential duplication of services.
All of these are rational arguments, but there is compelling evidence that an SBMH program, even when partially implemented, significantly improves students’ access to mental health services. Therefore, an SBMH model fortified with a solid mental health service workforce will help all scholars across the state build the mental resilience and well-being they need to excel academically and navigate the challenges of growing up.
Praise Emukah-Brown is a physician and a graduate student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health .
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Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Youtube targeted as Wicomico schools join class action lawsuit
The unprecedented social media class action lawsuit now includes the Wicomico County Board of Education in the growing list of plaintiffs.
The Feb. 7 filing in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland names Meta Platforms, Inc., Facebook Payments Inc., Siculus, Inc., Facebook Operations, LLC, Instagram, LLC, Snap Inc., TikTok Inc., TikTok, LTD., TikTok, LLC, Bytedance, LTD., ByteDance, Inc., Google LLC and YouTube, LLC as defendants. The suit alleges continued usage of social media creates "a deterioration in the mental well-being of the county’s student population."
Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties have already also joined 500 school systems across the country claiming similar drawbacks to students overusing social media. There is also no cost to the Wicomico County Board of Education for joining the suit.
"In this county, we're certainly seeing an increase in mental health needs in our students and also the need for us to expend additional resources to address them," said Micah Stauffer, superintendent of Wicomico County Public Schools. "Joining this lawsuit is us saying we're holding these companies partly responsible for these student needs. It also says those companies are also partly responsible for the solutions. Any funding received through this lawsuit can be put towards the resources needed to help our students."
Wicomico schools chief: Social media actively targeting students
According to Stauffer, social media companies are actively targeting students to keep them engaged on social media for longer spans through mobile phones and other devices in the name of profit. Mental health issues stemming from its use, he added, include:
- lack of focus
- and has detrimental impacts on a student's academic success
"Even national surveys completed by teens themselves say the overuse of social media has negative impacts on their self-image and their view of the world around them. Those are all the needs we have to address as a school system to effectively help students learn," Stauffer said.
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Social media usage: 'Brain development a critical factor to consider'
In 2023, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory published " Social Media and Youth Mental Health ," a comprehensive study on the positive and negative effects of social media on the developing brain.
Their data underscored that up to 95% of youth ages 13–17 report using a social media platform, with more than a third saying they use social media “almost constantly." Although age 13 is commonly the required minimum age used by social media platforms in the U.S., nearly 40% of children ages 8–12 use social media.
The extent to which the report characterizes social media usage impacts on teens is limited to saying more research is needed to fully understand the effects of social media. Findings do cite the current body of evidence indicates that "while social media may have benefits for some children and adolescents," there are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.
"Brain development is a critical factor to consider when assessing the risk for harm. Adolescents, ages 10 to 19, are undergoing a highly sensitive period of brain development. This is a period when risk-taking behaviors reach their peak, when well-being experiences the greatest fluctuations, and when mental health challenges such as depression typically emerge," the report said.
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Report finds social media impacts key parts of developing brains
The report stipulates frequent social media use may be associated with distinct changes in the developing brain in the amygdala, the area important for emotional learning and behavior, and the prefrontal cortex, the area important for impulse control, emotional regulation and moderating social behavior. Such exposure could also deeply impact concepts of social reward and punishment.
"When you're teaching a classroom and you have students with mental health needs, you have to first address them. We've hired additional social workers in recent years as well as mental health staff and school counselors all in the effort to meet the needs we're seeing in our students," Stauffer said.
In the normal course of speaking with both students and their teachers, Stauffer noted social media is becoming an increasing presence in students' lives. Often times, Stauffer stressed, mental health issues that are first seen in school soon extend to the community at large.
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What can parents do to monitor social media use?
The study also highlighted limits on the use of social media have resulted in mental health benefits for young adults and adults. A small, randomized controlled trial in college-aged youth found that limiting social media use to 30 minutes daily over three weeks led to significant improvements in depression severity.
Stauffer added parents are the first resource a child has when it comes to the amount of time spent on social media. Among his suggestions were:
- provide a structured amount of time their children spend on these platforms;
- parents should also educate themselves on the various parental controls available to them through such platforms;
- parents should be aware of what their children are posting on platforms and with whom they are connecting online;
- ensure their children are doing other extracurricular activities other than simply using social media;
- and finally, being aware of any changes in their child's behavior that might indicate a mental health issue.
"The community and parents need to understand we are concerned about the overuse of social media and that it's leading to mental health issues in this county's schools," Stauffer said.
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Regions & Countries
Race and lgbtq issues in k-12 schools, what teachers, teens and the u.s. public say about current curriculum debates.
Pew Research Center conducted this study to better understand how public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.
The bulk of the analysis in this report is based on an online survey of 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers conducted from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, 2023. The teachers surveyed are members of RAND’s American Teacher Panel, a nationally representative panel of public school K-12 teachers recruited through MDR Education. Survey data is weighted to state and national teacher characteristics to account for differences in sampling and response to ensure they are representative of the target population.
For the questions for the general public, we surveyed 5,029 U.S. adults from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16, 2023. The adults surveyed are members of the Ipsos KnowledgePanel, a nationally representative online survey panel. Panel members are randomly recruited through probability-based sampling, and households are provided with access to the Internet and hardware if needed. To ensure that the results of this survey reflect a balanced cross section of the nation, the data is weighted to match the U.S. adult population by gender, age, education, race and ethnicity and other categories.
For questions for teens, we conducted an online survey of 1,453 U.S. teens from Sept. 26 to Oct. 23, 2023, through Ipsos. Ipsos recruited the teens via their parents, who were part of its KnowledgePanel. The survey was weighted to be representative of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 who live with their parents by age, gender, race and ethnicity, household income, and other categories. The survey on teens was reviewed and approved by an external institutional review board (IRB), Advarra, an independent committee of experts specializing in helping to protect the rights of research participants.
Here are the questions used for this report , along with responses, and the survey methodology .
Throughout the report, references to White, Black and Asian adults include those who are not Hispanic and identify as only one race. Hispanics are of any race. The views and experiences of teachers and teens who are Asian American or part of other racial and ethnic groups are not analyzed separately in this report due to sample limitations. Data for these groups is incorporated into the general population figures throughout the report.
All references to party affiliation include those who lean toward that party. Republicans include those who identify as Republicans and those who say they lean toward the Republican Party. Democrats include those who identify as Democrats and those who say they lean toward the Democratic Party.
Political leaning of school districts is based on whether the majority of those residing in the school district voted for Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Amid national debates about what schools are teaching , we asked public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public how they see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.
A sizeable share of teachers (41%) say these debates have had a negative impact on their ability to do their job. Just 4% say these debates have had a positive impact, while 53% say the impact has been neither positive nor negative or that these debates have had no impact.
And 71% of teachers say teachers themselves don’t have enough influence over what’s taught in public schools in their area.
In turn, a majority of teachers (58%) say their state government has too much influence over this. And more say the federal government, the local school board and parents have too much influence than say they don’t have enough.
Most of the findings in this report come from a survey of 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers conducted Oct. 17-Nov. 14, 2023, using the RAND American Teacher Panel. 1 The survey looks at teachers’ views on:
- Race and LGBTQ issues in the classroom ( Chapter 1 )
- Current debates over what schools should be teaching and the role of key groups ( Chapter 2 )
It follows a fall 2022 survey of K-12 parents that explored similar topics.
This report also includes some findings from a survey of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 ( Chapter 3 ) and a survey of U.S. adults ( Chapter 4 ). For details about these surveys, refer to the Methodology section of this report. Among the key findings:
- 38% of teens say they feel comfortable when topics related to racism or racial inequality come up in class (among those who say these topics have come up). A smaller share (29%) say they feel comfortable when topics related to sexual orientation or gender identity come up.
- Among the American public , more say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues than say the same about topics related to race (54% vs. 34%).
What do teachers think students should learn about slavery and gender identity?
We asked public K-12 teachers what they think students should learn in school about two topics in particular:
- Whether the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today.
- Whether a person’s gender can be different from or is determined by their sex at birth.
For these questions, elementary, middle and high school teachers were asked about elementary, middle and high school students, respectively.
The legacy of slavery
Most teachers (64%) say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today.
About a quarter (23%) say students should learn that slavery is part of American history but no longer affects the position of Black people in American society. Just 8% say students shouldn’t learn about this topic in school at all.
Majorities of elementary, middle and high school teachers say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still has an impact on the lives of Black Americans.
When it comes to teaching about gender identity – specifically whether a person’s gender can be different from or is determined by their sex assigned at birth – half of public K-12 teachers say students shouldn’t learn about this in school.
A third of teachers think students should learn that someone can be a boy or a girl even if that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
A smaller share (14%) say students should learn that whether someone is a boy or a girl is determined by their sex at birth.
Views differ among elementary, middle and high school teachers. But teachers across the three levels are more likely to say students should learn that a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth than to say students should learn gender is determined by sex at birth.
Most elementary school teachers (62%) say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school. This is much larger than the shares of middle and high school teachers who say the same (45% and 35%).
What parents and teens say
Parents of K-12 students are more divided on what their children should learn in school about these topics.
In the 2022 survey , 49% of parents said they’d rather their children learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today, while 42% said they’d rather their children learn that slavery no longer affects Black Americans.
When it comes to gender identity, 31% of parents said they’d rather their children learn that gender can be different from sex at birth. An identical share said they would rather their children learn gender is determined by sex at birth. Another 37% of parents said their children shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.
Teens, like parents, are more divided than teachers on these questions. About half of teens (48%) say they’d rather learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black Americans today. Four-in-ten would prefer to learn that slavery no longer affects Black Americans.
And teens are about evenly divided when it comes to what they prefer to learn about gender identity. A quarter say they’d rather learn that a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth; 26% would prefer to learn that gender is determined by sex at birth. About half (48%) say they shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.
For more on teens’ views about what they prefer to learn in school about each of these topics, read Chapter 3 of this report.
Should parents be able to opt their children out of learning about certain topics?
Most public K-12 teachers (60%) say parents should not be able to opt their children out of learning about racism or racial inequality in school, even if the way these topics are taught conflicts with the parents’ beliefs. A quarter say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about these topics.
In contrast, more say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about sexual orientation or gender identity (48%) than say parents should not be able to do this (33%).
On topics related to both race and LGBTQ issues, elementary and middle school teachers are more likely than high school teachers to say parents should be able to opt their children out.
How teachers’ views compare with the public’s views
Like teachers, Americans overall are more likely to say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about sexual orientation or gender identity (54%) than to say they should be able to opt their children out of learning about racism or racial inequality (34%).
Across both issues, Americans overall are somewhat more likely than teachers to say parents should be able to opt their children out.
For more on the public’s views, read Chapter 4 of this report.
How often do topics related to race and LGBTQ issues come up in the classroom?
Most teachers who’ve been teaching for more than a year (68%) say the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity rarely or never came up in their classroom in the 2022-23 school year. About one-in-five (21%) say these topics came up sometimes, and 8% say they came up often or extremely often.
Topics related to racism or racial inequality come up more frequently. A majority of teachers (56%) say these topics came up at least sometimes in their classroom, with 21% saying they came up often or extremely often.
These topics are more likely to come up in secondary school than in elementary school classrooms.
How do teachers’ views differ by party?
As is the case among parents of K-12 students and the general public, teachers’ views on how topics related to race and LGBTQ issues should play out in the classroom differ by political affiliation.
- What students should learn about slavery: 85% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning teachers say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today. This compares with 35% of Republican and Republican-leaning teachers who say the same.
- What students should learn about gender identity: Democratic teachers are far more likely than Republican teachers to say students should learn that a person’s gender can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth (53% vs. 5%). Most Republican teachers (69%) say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.
- Parents opting their children out of learning about these topics: 80% of Republican teachers say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues, compared with 30% of Democratic teachers. And while 47% of Republican teachers say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about racism and racial inequality, just 11% of Democratic teachers say this.
A majority of public K-12 teachers (58%) identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. About a third (35%) identify with or lean toward the GOP. Americans overall are more evenly divided: 47% are Democrats or Democratic leaners, and 45% are Republicans or Republican leaners .
- For details, refer to the Methodology section of the report. ↩
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Table of contents, ‘back to school’ means anytime from late july to after labor day, depending on where in the u.s. you live, among many u.s. children, reading for fun has become less common, federal data shows, most european students learn english in school, for u.s. teens today, summer means more schooling and less leisure time than in the past, about one-in-six u.s. teachers work second jobs – and not just in the summer, most popular.
About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .