The Connecticut School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI) is designed to prevent in-school arrests and reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for youth experiencing emotional or behavioral health challenges. SBDI is a school-level initiative that engages teachers, staff, administrators, and school resource officers through consultation, expert training, and capacity building activities. SBDI is an effective strategy to increase access for students and families to mental health prevention supports and treatment services in the school and local community by helping schools to meet the following goals:
- Reduce the number of suspensions, expulsions, and discretionary school-based arrests
- Build knowledge and skills among teachers, administrators, school staff, and school resource officers to recognize and manage behavioral health crises in the school, and access needed community resources
- Link youth who are at-risk of arrest to appropriate school- and community-based services and supports
As a school-wide initiative, SBDI provides training, consultation, and support for school professionals and increases the likelihood that students are appropriately linked to existing networks of services and supports in both the school and the surrounding community.
Training and Professional Development
Staff development, in the form of trainings and informal workgroups, are a key component of the SBDI model. SBDI provides a comprehensive list of training and workgroup modules to assist school staff in understanding and applying key mental health and juvenile justice competencies and to support arrest diversion principles and practices.
- Crisis De-escalation and Classroom Behavior Management
- Understanding Adolescent Development and Recognizing Child Trauma
- Effective Collaboration with EMPS and Care Coordination
- Understanding and Partnering with the Juvenile Justice System
- Introduction to the Graduated Response Model
- Promoting Positive School Climate and Connectedness
- Restorative Justice Practices as Alternatives to Arrest
- Overview of the Connecticut Behavioral Health System
- Multicultural Competence in Schools
- Understanding and Increasing Empathy for Families with Mental Health Needs
Discipline Policy Consultation
SBDI assists schools in examining and revising disciplinary policies and practices where needed to support diversion efforts. Two key strategies are (1) development of a graduated response model of discipline intervention and a (2) school-police memorandum of agreement (MOA). A graduated response model is a structured approach to responding to in-school behavior incidents using a tiered model based on intensity and frequency of problem behaviors and incorporates restorative justice and diversion principles. A school-police memorandum of agreement (MOA) is an agreement between school districts and local police departments to establish guidelines for responding to disruptive student behavior.
Linkage to Community-Based Resources
SBDI can facilitate access to a number of community-based services and supports. These linkages help reduce the burden placed on schools to address mental health concerns. SBDI also helps facilitate the process of establishing formal agreements with community based resources.
- Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services (EMPS)
- Care Coordination
- Family members and students
- Local Police Departments
- Juvenile Probation Officer
- Youth Service Bureaus
- Community Collaborative
- Juvenile Review Boards
- Local Interagency Teams (LISTS)
- Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee
Together, these efforts work towards building capacity for enhanced school mental health services and supports, improving school connectedness, and promoting positive student outcomes.