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Day Treatment Program, nationally accredited

South Providence Day Treatment staff takes a moment to share with students notification of their recently attained national certification. Pictured are, from left, Kathryn Singleton, teacher assistant; Jude Johnson, therapist; Greg Kearney, rehabilitation therapist; Dana Crosson, principal; Karen Holst, program director; Sean Pueschel, teacher; Dan Edwards, assistant principal; Maxine Sims, teacher assistant; and Rachel Patton, therapist.

A day treatment program located at South Providence, a Union County Public School for at-risk students, has been nationally accredited, culminating a four-year journey that has finally come to fruition.
           
The program, called Union County Public Schools Day Treatment, is a structured therapeutic and educational program for students in grades six through 12. 
           
“This program is so important because we can deal with mental health issues, and keep these students in school,” said South Providence principal Dana Crosson. “Without this program, they would be homebound or long-term suspended. Without this program, there is nowhere for these students to turn. We have an excellent level of success in getting the students back on track and back into their home schools.”
           
A “home school” is the public school where students would attend based on their home address. Sometimes factors occur that prevent students from attending their home school, however, they could be assigned to another school or program. The school’s Day Treatment program is only one facet of South Providence and is known as “a school within a school.” Only students who require a therapeutic setting and have a mental health diagnosis can qualify for the program, which began in 1993 as a cooperative agreement between Union County Public Schools and Piedmont Behavior Health Care. Crosson wrote the basic policies for the program in 1993 to get it operational.
           
Then in 2004, South Providence took over the program on its own and was the first school in the state to provide in-house mental health services without any other mental health agency involvement. The program has been working on getting a national accreditation ever since. “Karen Holst, the day treatment director, has taken it to the next level,” Crosson said. “I’m so proud of the work that Karen has done. She has put so much effort into this.”
           
All the hard work has apparently paid off, as evident in the final report by CARF International, the national accrediting body for mental health services. “The Day Treatment staff consistently demonstrates an overall attitude of caring, concern, and awareness of the welfare and potential of persons served,” it said. “It’s evident that the program is highly valued and greatly appreciated by family members of persons served, both for the professionalism of staff members and benefit provided by the program.”
           
Holst, a license clinical social worker, said the day treatment program is a meshing of academic and mental health services. “It’s for students who need the mental health support, who can’t function successfully in less restrictive settings.”
           
Getting national accreditation wasn’t an option for South Providence. In order to stay open the program had to become nationally accredited. “It allows us to stay open,” Crosson said. “Without this national accreditation, we would have to close the program and deny mental health services to kids in Union County. Because we have an excellent reputation in the state for what we do, we could not risk failing our students and allowing the program to close.”
          
CARF spent about three days at South Providence in the accreditation process. “They came to the school and went through our records, talking to the students, parents and the providers we work with about the quality of our services,” Holst said. “They also spoke with Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare, the local management entity for Medicaid-funded mental health services, and with the day treatment staff members. Everyone gave glowing reports as to the success of the program.”
           
An exceptional children’s (EC) teacher, EC teacher assistant and a licensed therapist are assigned to each classroom, with the addition of a certified therapeutic recreation therapist who is shared between classes.
   
Medicaid pays for the clinical staff or the clinical component of the program, while UCPS pays for all teachers, teacher assistants, educational supplies, materials and housing of the program. UCPS Day Treatment also provides individual, group and family therapy that supports the students enrolled in the program.
          
Now other school systems throughout the state are turning to South Providence's Day Treatment Program to help build programs of their own.          

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: Feb 13, 2009 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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