The SCIT is an integrated, problem-solving, building level team designed to address any and all concerns parents and teachers have about children’s development. The SCIT integrates efforts from the IST, SAP, special education, and any other special school resources available to help individual children and their families. The SCIT also has specialized community agency relationships and pathways to appropriately, efficiently, and effectively access mental health and other agency services on behalf of children and families, e.g., wraparound/BHRS, outpatient counseling, partial hospitalization, alternative education, psychiatric evaluations.
The basic goals of the SCIT are to: (1) maintain an ongoing inventory of all available school and community specialized services/resources, (2) study concerns about referred children and their individual developmental functioning profile, risks, and assets, (3) match an individual child’s needs with the appropriate level of accommodation and/or intervention. The basic SCIT guideline is to provide a child with a level of help that is commensurate with the magnitude of school concerns about that child, as determined by the SCIT.
The SCIT is composed of the principal, the guidance counselor, a mental health professional/SAP Liaison, the school psychologist, the special education supervisor and a BHRS agency mental health professional/wraparound/BHRS coordinator. By having these individuals work as a coherent problem-solving team, the SCIT functions in a transdisciplinary and a transagency fashion, i.e., plans, coordinates, and integrates the views and services from multiple disciplines and agencies.
HOW THE SCIT WORKS
The SCIT meets every other week, with its schedule set at the beginning of the school year, for 1.5 hours to study any concerns teachers or parents have conveyed to the SCIT about a particular child (i.e., SCIT is zero-reject- every concern is addressed in some way). These concerns are classified by the SCIT through SCIT concern analysis and child screenings or evaluations by various members of the SCIT. The SCIT is organized so that it can efficiently analyze 15 to 20 cases in 1.5 hours. The major SCIT approach is one of triage- to determine the degree of child need (see below- what Level a child seems to be in) and then assemble a child-specific team to carry out (that Level) actions and report back to the SCIT.
SCIT Case Level System
Level 1- these children have mild academic and/or behavioral problems, or no problems at all (i.e., unrealistic adult expectations). The teacher and/or parents for Level 1 children receives consultation from the school psychologist and/or mental health professional, which may typically include a clinical interview with the concerned teacher and/or parent, an observation of the child in the context of the child’s daily routine at school, and an analysis of the existing school records for the child. The school psychologist and/or mental health professional has no direct interaction with the child. Emphasis is on professional consultation for minor instructional/behavioral modification and environmental accommodations.
Level 2- A Level 2 child receives everything a Level 1 child receives plus some direct professional screening, which helps the SCIT determine that the child has a mild to moderate problem. Many times children enter Level 2 when efforts in Level 1 do not resolve issues or when the child’s difficulties worsen. Direct professional screening for learning and/or behavioral difficulties at Level 2 is done only after the school obtains written, informed parental consent, which is obtained via a SAP-like parental consent form consistent with FERPA provisions. Children in Level 2 can receive any combination of secondary prevention services: (a) SAP counseling, (b) outpatient counseling, (c) a Chapter 15 Accommodation Plan, (d) BHRS mobile therapy, (e) extra instructional support in the school (e.g., Chapter 1, tutoring, etc.). Level 2 children’s school difficulties, however, are judged by the SCIT to not require an evaluation by a MDT for a possible IEP.
Level 3- These children are judged by the SCIT to have moderate to severe problems in need formal evaluation and tertiary intervention services, i.e., an IEP, partial hospitalization, alternative education, TSS in school, outpatient psychiatric medication management. These children have a formal diagnosis of a disability that requires substantial intervention at school and also many times at home as well.
Integration of Effort
Recent federal government studies and reports have emphasized the need for an integration of effort in public education and mental health services (see 1999 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, President’s 2003 New Freedom Commission Report on Public Mental Health – available at www.mentalhealthcommission.gov). Service integration is an approach that makes a lot of sense on both fiscal and clinical grounds; it minimizes duplication of effort and service gaps, it maximizes continuity of care for the consumer, and it reduces service confusion for the professionals.
For more information about the SCIT, contact Dennis Valone, Ed.D.- email@example.com