The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 26, 2014

Special support critical in schools

As presidents of the Minnesota School Social Workers Association and the Minnesota School Psychologists Association, we would like to acknowledge the attention that The Mankato Free Press has directed toward the process of serving the mental health needs of students in local schools.

The article titled “School Counselors Spread Too Thin” written by Amanda Dyslin and the Editorial titled “Our View: Schools Need More Counselors” focused on the needs of students relative to the number of school counselors able to support them.

We would like to take this opportunity to expand on this topic and describe the collaborative efforts of all specialized instructional support personnel in providing services to support positive social-emotional, physical, and academic outcomes.

Specialized instructional support personnel include but are not limited to school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors, and school nurses. Each of these professions offers unique expertise for the provision of services to students. The Mankato school district currently employs 16 counselors, 6 school social workers, 8 school psychologists, and 3 school nurses.

According to 2012-2013 statistics detailed in a recent report from the Minnesota Department of Education, titled “Student Support Services: Team Staffing Approach”, the relative numbers of each of these professionals are similar to statewide averages with Mankato employing slightly fewer relative numbers of school social workers and school nurses.

The foundation of a school-based system for supporting the social-emotional, physical, and academic needs of all students is a multi-disciplinary team approach comprised of a variety of specialized instructional support personnel with different backgrounds, perspectives, training and skill sets. This team approach supports the collaborative pooling of skills and exchange of expertise among specialized instructional support personnel to support student needs. This collaboration is modeled both at a local level within the school setting as well as on a state level between associations.

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