MHSS Counseling Frequently Asked Questions
School Counseling services are reserved for students whose social and emotional needs are impairing their academic abilities. For students that are experiencing challenges outside of school, referrals to local mental health agencies will be provided. Reasons for a school counseling referral impacting academic or school performance:
- Loss of a family member or loved one (e.g. death, incarceration, or deportation).
- Stressors at home are affecting school performance or self esteem (e.g. divorce, financial stress).
- Student is very sad, angry, or worried.
- Difficulty making and maintaining appropriate friendships with peers.
- Student lacks school motivation to participate or attend school or is extremely distracted.
- Severe changes in a student’s behavior.
- A traumatic event that is impacting school performance (e.g. abuse, car accident, bullying, etc.).
Meeting with the school Counselor will look different at each of our KIPP Schools, but in general they may receive support the following ways, based on what is appropriate:
- Counselor consults with teacher about appropriate interventions and supports that can help the student be more successful in their classroom.
- Counselor may come into the classroom to present on a particular topic (e.g. bullying prevention, appropriate friendships, or suicide awareness for middle school students).
- Sometimes the school Counselor's caseload is full or the need of the student goes beyond school performance, and a referral will be initiated in partnership with the parent/family for outside counseling services or services provided for by a contracted therapist.
- Counselor will meet with a group of no more than 10 students to work on increasing skills in a certain area, such as coping with strong emotions, processing grief or social skills.
- Students meet with the school counselor one on one to address a particular concern or behavior.
Mental health services are provided by Master’s level Social Workers (MSW or equivalent - e.g. school psychology) that are registered with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as Associate Clinical Social Workers (ACSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), in addition to possessing their Pupil Personnel Services Credential with certification in school social work / school counseling, and child welfare and attendance through the Committee on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). All clinicians are trained in multiple evidence-based practices and specialize in treating depression, anxiety, special education, disruptive behaviors, and trauma.
- In order to benefit from these services, students must be referred (by staff, parent or self-referral), and schools must demonstrate that all other options have been exhausted, qualify through school counseling assessment and parent interview.
- Parents also must sign for consent for participation in mental health services for students, however, School Counselors are permitted to meet with students without parental consent up to 3 times and in the case of emergencies (e.g. suicidal ideation or suspicion of abuse).
- In the state of California, children aged 12 and above are able to consent for their own mental health services, however, School Counselors will always attempt to partner with parents/legal guardians to collaborate on treatment and referrals.
Consent for counseling can be revoked in writing at any time by the parent or legal guardian and given to the main office or directly to the School Counselor.
A counselor-student relationship must be built on trust and confidentiality. This means that School Counselors are bound by ethical codes of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to keep conversations between counselors and students private. School Counselors maintain the confidentiality of their students and their families at all times and will only break confidentiality if given specific permission or if the student’s or when student may be susceptible to or there is suspicion of:
- Harming themselves.
- Harm to others.
- Abuse and/or Neglect.
School Counselors, like all KIPP SoCal Public Schools employees, are mandated reporters.
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Human trafficking is the world's fastest growing criminal enterprise and is an estimated $150 billion per year global industry. Even worse, 2 million children worldwide and 100,000 in the U.S. are commercially sexually exploited every year. Los Angeles has one of the highest incidences of trafficking due to our proximity to airports and the port of Los Angeles. With these startling statistics, two laws have been put into effect to ensure we do our part to inform parents of the warning signs of human trafficking (SB 1104) and students through the sexual health curriculum in grades 7-8 (AB 1227).
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.
How to Keep Your Child Safe:
Just as "it takes a village to raise a child," it takes a community that's aware and looking out for it's children to keep them protected from child trafficking and exploitation. Be informed and watch out for the children in our communities!
1. TALK WITH YOUR CHILD.
The average age of exploitation is between 11 and 14, but it is never too early to talk to your child about safety. Build a relationship of open communication and trust. Your child needs to know there is an open invitation to talk about anything they (or their friends) are experiencing without fear or judgement.
2. KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE ONLINE.
The internet is a place filled with both opportunities and risks and with children having access to the internet through their personal cell phones, the possibilities are endless. These questions can help you determine a standard for your home:
- Where will internet-enabled devices (computers, laptops, tablets, gaming consoles, electronic books) be located?
- What times throughout the day is the internet allowed?
- What types of websites are people allowed to access both in and outside of the home?
- How is social media used (e.g., Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, etc.)?
3. KNOW THE RED FLAGS.
- The sudden presence of an older boyfriend/girlfriend
- The sudden addition of a lot of new stuff or the appearance that a lot of money has been spent on them (e.g., new clothes, new hair styles, manicures/pedicures)
- Being secretive about who they are talking to or meeting
- Becoming more and more isolated from their regular friends (the groomer often does this to have as much control as possible over the child)
- Unexplained changes in behavior, temperament, or personality (e.g., chaotic, aggressive, sexual, mood swings)
Adapted from www.love146.org/caregivers
In Los Angeles, if you ever suspect child labor or sex trafficking or exploitation, call the LA County Child Abuse Hotline: 1 (800) 540-4000
For more resources, please visit the websites below:
Suicide Prevention & Awareness Video
If you observe significant changes in behavior like the ones below, it may be a sign that someone you know needs help:
- Changes in personality
- Neglecting personal appearance/hygiene
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Internet searches related to suicide
- Self-injurious behaviors
- Changes in appetite
How has your child been feeling? Have they been feeling this way for more than 4-6 weeks? Look out for signs of:
- Intense sadness, tearfulness
- Hopelessness or apathy
- Low energy
What has the child said, written or posted on social media that we should be concerned about? Like the statements below:
- “I wish I was dead”
- Feeling like they are a burden
- “No one would care if I was gone”
- Specific statements of suicide
- “I wish I was never born”
- “People would be better off without me”