• Mental Health Supports

    The Kinnelon District is committed to supporting the learning community in removing barriers to students accessing a full learning experience. Towards that end, the district employs a tiered approach to mental health support.

    Each school has a mental health support team, composed of guidance counselors, school psychologists, social workers, school and district administrators, the district behaviorist, and contracted clinical counselors. The team meets bimonthly to address school-based mental health needs in a Mental Health multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) meeting. The Mental Health MTSS process is described below.

    1. Preventative: School-based preventative measures include classroom instruction on the “True Values” Social-emotional learning curriculum from Kindergarten through 8th Grade. This instruction is provided by the district guidance counselors, who are trained in the “True Values” approach. Additionally, staff are trained in identifying and responding to student mental health needs by outside clinical professionals through the NJ4S program* as well as through the contracted CarePlus licensed clinicians. Guidance counselors and case managers receive training in the Columbia Risk Assessment to ensure that any threat of harm to oneself can be quickly and accurately identified. The district also plans talks throughout the year to provide families with information and assistance in supporting their children’s social, emotional, and mental needs throughout the school year.

    2. Responsive: Classroom and counseling support with guidance counselors and child study team members are provided for 6-week cycles. These cycles allow any behavior and / or mental health challenges to be addressed through specific, measurable, and attainable goals. The school-based clinical team sets the goals in collaboration with the classroom staff and reflective of family input. Goal implementation is overseen by a guidance counselor for general education students, and a case manager for students with an IEP. At the end of the 6-week cycle, the clinician makes a recommendation to the clinical team and family regarding next steps for the student. This may include continuation of support, with an adjustment to the approach to achieve the goals, reduction of support to fewer student meetings, check-ins, or classroom consultations. 

    3. Targeted Clinical Response: CarePlus Clinical Counselors and the District Board Certified Behavior Analyst provide short-term, intensive counseling for students and support for family members to establish outside clinical support for students with intensive mental health needs. This level of support is also in place for students who are transitioning back to the district after receiving outside clinical interventions.

    Referrals, Family Communication and Documentation:

    • Staff members make initial referrals via the Mental Health MTSS support request form. Families who would like their child referred to the Mental Health MTSS can contact their child’s guidance counselor or case manager.

    • Families are informed in writing of the referral to the Mental Health MTSS team. 

    • The assigned counselor follows up with the family through a meeting (in-person or virtual) to inform them of the plan and to receive signed permission to implement the plan. Families are asked at that time to complete a questionnaire regarding pertinent information that will assist the MTSS team in addressing the concerns and connecting the family to appropriate resources.

    • During the 6-week cycle, the counselor remains in communication with the family via phone and/or email to help connect them to outside clinical support as needed.

    • After the 6-week review, the family is informed of the next steps in writing.

    • All steps and communications are documented within the OnCourse 504 portal and in the internal spreadsheet, by the assigned case manager or guidance counselor.

    *NJ4S is a state-funded and run organization, designed to provide preventative and responsive resources to school districts. Kinnelon has begun a relationship with our local NJ4S arm. NJ4S will provide a series of presentations to staff and families revolving around supporting mental health wellness.

    CarePlus is a private agency, contracted by the Kinnelon district to provide licensed clinical counselors to our schools. The CarePlus clinical counselors are members of the Mental Health MTSS teams in our schools, serve a caseload of ‘tier 3’ students in short-term, urgent-need counseling, connections to community-based supports, and complete risk assessments when needed.