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NASP Communiqué, Vol. 37, #4
December 2008

Securing PREPaRE Training in Your District

By Melissa Reeves & Katherine C. Cowan

The PREPaRE Crisis Prevention and Intervention Curriculum is the first comprehensive curriculum developed and offered by NASP. PREPaRE’s purpose is to build the capacity of schools at the local level to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from crisis events. Embedded in this primary goal is the ability to foster systems change consistent with and in support of a multitiered service delivery system.

Specifically, PREPaRE provides school-based mental health professionals and other educators training on how to best fill the roles and responsibilities generated by their participation on school crisis teams and teaches specific intervention strategies to help in the intervention and recovery process. It off ers a unique integration of the issues related to physical and psychological safety and is one of the first nationally available training curricula developed for school-based professionals by school-based professionals with firsthand experience and formal training. A complete description of the curriculum is available online at http://www.nasponline.org/prepare/index.aspx.

Released in March 2006, PREPaRE has been taught in 30 states and Canada to nearly 3,000 school psychologists and other school and community professionals. Expanding far beyond the original six developers and trainers, there are now over 150 PREPaRE trainers across the country and internationally. This curriculum continues to grow in capacity and the positive systems-level impact occurring in many school districts has been exciting!

One of the issues that has arisen in some districts, however, is the challenge involved in proposing a new training like PREPaRE for staff development. Schools are busy, in some cases overwhelmed, with competing priorities and strapped with tightening budgets. A number of school psychologists have found creative ways to overcome these barriers, including securing grant funding, which does exist.

Gaining Support for PREPaRE Training in Your District

Take PREPaRE training in Boston. NASP will be offering both PREPaRE Workshop 1: Crisis Prevention & Preparedness: The Comprehensive School Crisis Team, and Workshop 2: Crisis Intervention & Recovery: The Roles of School-Based Mental Health Professionals, in Boston. If you have not taken the core training, consider doing so as this will better enable you to advocate for the training, based on your firsthand knowledge and your ability to provide an overview or brief inservice for key staff . Convention and workshop registration are available at http://www.nasponline.org/conventions/index.aspx.

Become a PREPaRE Trainer. Individuals who have taken either or both of the core workshops are eligible to take the corresponding Training of Trainers (ToT) workshops. This enables you to off er formal PREPaRE training in your district and in other districts (for which you can charge a trainer’s fee). Both WS 1 ToT and WS2 ToT workshops are being offered in Chicago, January 12–13 and at both of the NASP Summer Conferences, July 13–15 in the Washington, DC area and July 20–22 in Albuquerque, NM. Additional information is available online at http://www.nasponline.org/prepare/index.aspx.

Advocate for state-level training. Encourage your state school psychology association to include PREPaRE training in the state conference offerings.

Make your case to administrators. When gaining support to either attend or host a PREPaRE training, the following key points can be emphasized. It is important to adapt these general points to specific needs in your district. Additional communications tips and resources are available at http://www.nasponline.org/prepare/index.aspx.

  • School crisis response requires attention to physical and psychological safety.
  • Effective crisis planning and response can help build students’ resilience and coping capacity and strengthen families and school communities.
  • Effective crisis planning and response helps students return to normal academic functioning as quickly as possible.
  • School crisis response presents unique issues that require targeted training and knowledge of schools, mental health, and children’s crisis reactions.
  • Schools need the capacity to respond to a range of crises (e.g., student death, school shooting, community tragedy, natural disaster, epidemic, terrorism).
  • Mental health is integral to crisis reaction and recovery; hence, support for children’s mental health needs is essential.
  • Having a plan is not enough. Staff training that encompasses all aspects of crisis prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery is critical to districts’ effective crisis management capabilities.

Highlight why PREPaRE is unique among other crisis trainings. Many districts presume they have adequate training or that comprehensive staff training is not necessary. Most crisis training focuses primarily on physical safety and response. PREPaRE is unique in that it:

  • Is one of the first evidence-based training programs to meet the distinct needs of school crisis teams.
  • Was developed by expert school psychologists with formal crisis training and extensive experience in school crisis prevention and response.
  • Provides both the foundation for new crisis responders and more in-depth training for those with some knowledge and experience.
  • Includes an emphasis on prevention that supports improved school climate, student behavior, and academic functioning, as well as student resilience and staff response capabilities.
  • Is structured to fit within and support a three-tiered services delivery model covering strategies to be utilized at all levels of intervention, from school-wide to individual supports.
  • Is appropriate for crisis team leaders/members, school mental health staff who might help respond in a major crisis, and community providers who will be part of a school crisis response.
  • Improves school–community collaboration.

Defray Training Costs by Securing Grant Funding

Many school districts have used the following grant funds to cover the costs of PREPaRE training and build local capacity. See the NASP website for contact information for school districts that have sponsored PREPaRE trainings and for staff who are willing to talk with others about doing the same. You are highly encouraged to visit the grant websites below to see if your district might be eligible for one of these grants. This list is not exhaustive but provides a summary of grants appropriate for PREPaRE trainings.

  • Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative: Past applications have been available mid-January with a due date of mid-March. http://www.ed.gov/programs/dvpsafeschools
  • Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant: This was formerly the Emergency Response and Crisis Management for Schools (ERCM) grant. FY 2009 information is still pending but the previous grant deadline was February 2008. http://www.ed.gov/programs/dvpemergencyresponse/applicant.html
  • Safe and Drug-Free Schools grant: Past deadline was in November 2008 and the grant submission cycle is typically between July and November 15th. 2009 information has yet to be posted.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA): In the past SAMSHA has offered conference grants. http://www.samhsa.gov/grants/index.aspx
  • County Budget Funds: Some counties have budget funds (sometimes provided by the states) for projects that benefit children and families, collaboration between schools and community, and emergency response. Check with your county commissioners and offices of education.
  • Local Professional Funds: Local and school district professional development funds have been utilized to sponsor PREPaRE trainings.

Check the NASP website for suggested grant language, frequently asked questions, additional key messages to help promote PREPaRE in your state and district, and for a list of local trainers in your area. To schedule training or for additional questions not found on website, contact Suzy Tyburski at styburski@naspweb.org.

Melissa Reeves, NCSP, is Chair of the PREPaRE Workgroup and Katherine C. Cowan is NASP Director, Marketing and Communications.