Prevention & Intervention

Our mission is to make sure that every student is able to access education in a learning environment that meets their mental, behavioral and social-emotional health needs.

Prevention & Intervention

Focusing on mental, behavioral and social-emotional health needs, our office increases access to education by:

  • Decreasing barriers through responsive, trauma-informed practices
  • Promoting a holistic and inclusive approach to supports
  • Validating students through person-centered practices and partnerships

Multi-Tiered Systems and Supports (MTSS Framework)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the federal legislation that shifted focus from addressing “special education” to addressing the needs of “every child.” ESSA defines Multi-Tiered Systems and Supports (MTSS) as a comprehensive continuum of evidence-based practices that supports a rapid response to students’ needs, combined with regular progress monitoring to continually improve outcomes for students.

Our office uses this framework through our programs and services to help enhance academic, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes for all students. Equity is a fundamental goal of MTSS and of our office.

Trauma-Informed Healing Centered School Practices

We are committed to caring for the mental health and well-being of our students and communities. We understand the importance of advancing healthy interpersonal connections and improving institutional culture, which fosters healthy outcomes for our youth and the adults who serve them. Our office supports our students through Trauma-Informed and HealingCentered School Practices.

Defining Trauma-Informed 

Schools are sanctuaries, and function as a place of refuge from danger, threat, injury or fear. A trauma-informed school is one where staff understand the function of trauma-induced behaviors (self-injury, rage, compulsions, etc.), and do not mistake them as intentional or provocative. Staff use objective, neutral language, as opposed to language that labels (i.e. anxious instead of manipulative).

Schools that follow trauma-informed practices recognize what practices can be re-traumatizing to a student. Power and control issues are minimized, and the environment is focused on creating a culture of care and safety with an individualized approach.

Defining Healing-Centered
Created by co-founders Dr. Shawn Ginwright and Nedra Ginwright, the Healing Centered Engagement (HCE) model builds on trauma-informed care by focusing on development across five key principles: culture, agency, relationships, meaning and aspirations. A healing-centered approach is holistic involving culture, spirituality, civic action and collective healing.

A healing-centered approach views trauma not simply as an individual isolated experience, but rather highlights the ways in which trauma and healing are experienced collectively. A healing centered approach to addressing trauma requires a different question that moves beyond “what happened to you” to “what’s right with you” and views those exposed to trauma as agents in the creation of their own well-being rather than victims of traumatic events.

Interventions and Services

The Multi-Tiered Systems and Supports (MTSS) framework is designed to help school staff identify struggling students early and intervene quickly. It focuses on the “whole child.” That means it supports academic growth, but many other areas, too, including behavior, social and emotional needs, and absenteeism (not attending school).

Crisis Response Protocol | District Behavioral Health Emergency Procedures | District BHE Flow Chart

What is the MTSS framework approach?

The MTSS framework takes a proactive approach to identifying students with academic or behavioral needs. Early assessment and intervention for these students can help them catch up with their peers sooner. The key components of MTSS include:

  • Universal screening of all students early in the school year
  • Tiers of interventions that can be amplified in response to levels of need
  • Ongoing data collection and continual assessment
  • Schoolwide approach to expectations and supports
  • Parent involvement

MTSS provides a method of early identification and intervention that can help struggling students to catch up with their peers. As such, MTSS uses three tiers of support to assist all students at various levels.

These three tiers include:

  1. Tier 1 – Universal or primary – Majority of students (75-90%)
  2. Tier 2 – Secondary – Small groups of students (10-25%)
  3. Tier 3 – Tertiary – Individual students (< 10%)

504 Service Planning

504 service agreements – also known as 504 plans – are formal documents that detail how each school gives students with disabilities the support they need to be successful. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which is a civil rights law, protects individuals (including students) from discrimination based on disability. Under this law, individuals with disabilities may not be excluded from or denied the opportunity from certain programs.

  • A student’s 504 Plan documents the aids, services, and accommodations afforded to every student to the maximum extent so that they can be educated alongside non-disabled peers.
  • Some of these accommodations include environmental strategies, organizational strategies, behavioral strategies, presentation strategies, evaluation methods, etc.
  • These plans prevent discrimination and protect the rights of students with disabilities in school.


In schools, a section 504 team determines a student’s eligibility through the process of reviewing the student’s educational history, current needs and their disability/diagnosis information, before developing and implementing a plan to meet the needs of the student.

What should I do next? 

For more information about how to obtain a 504 plan for your child please contact the school counselor or nurse.

If you have any questions regarding the 504 process, you may contact us using the 504 Inquiry Form or email

Non-Discrimination Notice Updates

Pursuant to the School District of Philadelphia Policy, 103.1 NonDiscrimination-Qualified Students with Disabilities/Protected Handicapped Students, our Administration has created grievance procedures that provide for the prompt resolution of complaints alleging any prohibited actions under the policy.

The policy outlines the District’s commitment to ensuring all individuals have equal access to education in this district regardless of race, color, age, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin or handicap/disability, gender identity, or genetic information. The policy also requires the district to provide academic and nonacademic services and programs equally to students with and without disabilities.

Any student, as well as parents and third parties, who believe that they have been subject to conduct that violates this policy may file a complaint following the administrative procedures. Please immediately report the incident to the District’s Section 504/Chapter 15 by completing the District Complaint Form.

Anyone who receives a verbal complaint should refer the student, parent, or third party to the Section 504/Chapter 15 Coordinator and notify the Section 504/Chapter 15 Coordinator in writing as soon as possible via

Behavioral Health Supports

Behavioral Health Supports

  • Behavioral Health Emergency – Like a physical health crisis, a behavioral health crisis can be an upsetting experience for individuals and families. A behavioral health emergency is defined as an emergent situation in which a person’s actions, feelings, and behaviors can lead to them hurting themselves or others. An individual experiencing a behavioral health crisis is in need of assessment and potential treatment.
  • If the person is an immediate danger to themselves or someone else: call 9-1-1 and let them know you are with someone experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Otherwise, please follow the District’s Behavioral Health Emergencies Procedures which can be found here: SDP Behavioral Health Emergency Procedures and SDP BHE Flow Chart.
  • Additional Useful Information

    • The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) offers 24/7 call, text, and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
    • Mental Health Delegate Hotline 215-685-6440
      7 days a week/24 hours per day
    • 24/Hr Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention Service 215-686-4420
    • Red Nacional de Prevenci’on del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454


The BrainSTEPS Program was created in 2007 to build a bridge connecting the medical, rehabilitation, education sectors and families following student (K-12) acquired brain injury (ABI).

The BrainSTEPS team in our office provides brain injury consultation and training to their school districts when a child has been identified as having experienced an acquired brain injury. An acquired brain injury includes traumatic brain injuries of all severities, concussions, and non-traumatic brain injuries.

For further information, please contact Michael Dettloff, Student Support Specialist for 504 and BrainSTEPS at

Check In / Check Out (CICO)

Check in / Check Out (CICO) is a school-based intervention for providing daily support and monitoring to students who are at risk for developing serious or chronic problem behavior. The daily cycle of implementing CICO involves five core features: (1) Check-in (2) daily point cards (3) regular teacher feedback (4) check-out (with rewards delivery) and (5) home communication.

How does CICO help my child? 

  • The program provides positive interactions with adults throughout the day
  • Gives structure to students through a predictable a daily routine
  • Students receive continuous feedback on behavioral performance
  • Teaches and supports social and self-regulation skills that promote school success

Who is a good candidate for CICO? 

  • Students who act out frequently
  • Students who have trouble throughout the school day
  • Students who like adult attention
  • Students who are NOT showing extreme or dangerous behaviors

What is the parent and family’s role? 

  • Review the home communication on your child’s progress
  • Provide positive praise and supportive feedback
  • Avoid negative or blaming comments when the goal is not met
  • Signs home note and return to school with your child if asked by the school

What should I do if I’m interested in my child receiving CICO?

Many of our schools offer the Check-In/Check-Out intervention to students. To learn more about the program and to see if it’s offered in your school, please talk to your student’s school counselor. You are also welcome to print our CICO Flyer and bring it to your school counselor!

Healing-Centered Engagement and Camp Akili

Healing-Centered Engagement is a non-clinical, strengths-based approach that advances a holistic view of healing and re-centers culture and identity as a central feature in personal well-being.

We currently have 16 schools participating in HCE training across the School District of Philadelphia. Both HCE training and Camp Akili will help educators and youth workers explore ways they can enhance their thoughts and behaviors to more effectively reach and impact youth of color. Our partnered school training teams, School District employees, and students will work together to identify the areas of focus for their school community and collaborate to co-create a Healing-Centered Plan for their community.

Intensive Behavioral Health Services (IBHS)

Intensive Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) is a service provided by an IBHS agency assigned to your child’s school. IBHS is designed to address the needs of children Pre-K through grade 12 by providing age-appropriate, trauma-informed, therapeutic interventions to remove barriers to learning. Services can include individual and group therapy, and one-on-one support as deemed medically necessary.

How can I learn more about this service?
For more intensive behavioral health needs, discuss with your Counselor and/or MTSS Tier II Team if an IBHS referral is appropriate.

If a student is authorized for IBHS, the IBHS team can support with:

  • Age-appropriate, trauma-informed, therapeutic interventions to remove barriers to learning.
    • Interventions may be an individualized and/or group approach and can include one-to-one support based on medical necessity.
  • Evidence-Based Practices
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    • Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Trauma in Schools (CBITS)
    • Bounce Back
    • Bridging Mental Health and Education in Urban Schools (BRIDGE)
  • Referral to additional Behavioral and Mental Health services and supports, if necessary.

How to access IBHS services for your student and here is more information on how to find your Intensive Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) Provider.

If you have additional questions or concerns, contact Cynthia Van-Otoo, Director of Behavioral Health at

Student Assistance Program (SAP)

The Student Assistance Program (SAP) is an early intervention program (within MTSS) to help identify behavioral health, substance abuse, and addiction issues that affect students, and then connect them with appropriate treatment.

SAP serves to ensure the provision of education and counseling support for students in need of mental health and substance abuse support. SAP is a state-mandated K-12 program.

Parents, Tier 2 & 3 teams, and SAP teams at schools can be referred for an assessment and students can self-refer. However, guardian approval is needed for the assessment to occur. All schools are assigned to a specific SAP assessment provider. DBHIDS contracts with CORA, Einstein, Merakey, and CADEKidsto provide SAP assessments across the city of Philadelphia.

What should I do next?
To learn more about the SAP program and to see if it’s offered in your school, please contact your student’s school counselor.

School-wide Crisis Response

Unfortunately, our students and families can be victims of tragic and sometimes fatal incidents that also deeply impact the school and district community. Our office assists with the assessment, response, and recovery process using a trauma-informed approach.

Prevention & Intervention Liaisons support school leadership, staff, counselors, students and families in the aftermath of the incident. They also assist with connecting schools and individuals to resources and determining what additional support or training may be beneficial in the future.

In case of an emergency, administrators determine appropriate actions by identifying the type of crisis and then follow the predetermined School District of Philadelphia Crisis Response Protocol.

Small Group Interventions

Small-group interventions can be an effective way to layer on support for learners who are in need of extra support in a specific area. Our office delivers this type of support with individuals and small groups of students through the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) model.

What should I do next?
To learn more about small group interventions for your child, please contact your student’s school counselor.

Suicide Awareness & Prevention

Teen suicide is preventable. Know the risk factors, the warning signs and the steps you can take to protect your teen. Our office is here to help with answers to your questions, resources and procedures to help your child. Counselors are trained to recognize warning signs in schools, and follow protocols to keep every student from hurting themselves. Ask your school for resources and guidance. We are here to help.

Does your child exhibit any of these behaviors?

  • Withdrawing from family and friends/ activities
  • Changing friends
  • Unexplained physical injuries
  • Feeling sad
  • Talks about suicide
  • Defies authority, both at home and school
  • Acts aggressively
  • Hitting
  • Lying
  • Needs money without explanation
  • Declining grades
  • Experimenting with drugs/ alcohol

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) offers 24/7 call, text, and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

Mental Health Delegate Hotline
Phone: 215-685-6440
7 days a week/24 hours per day

  • 24/Hr Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention Service 215-686-4420
  • Red Nacional de Prevenci’on del Suicidio 1-888-628-945

Additional Resources on Suicide Prevention 

Non-Discrimination Notice Updates
The School District of Philadelphia adopted the 253 Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Policy, in acknowledgment of the District’s commitment to maintaining a safe environment in all District schools; to protect the health, safety and welfare of its students; to promote healthy development; and to safeguard against the threat, attempt, or completion of suicide among school-aged youth.

The impact of students’ mental health on their academic performance and the effect of mental health issues and suicide on students and the entire school community are significant. Therefore, in order to ensure the safety and welfare of students, the District established prevention, risk assessment, intervention and postvention procedures; including educating school personnel and students on the risk factors, protective factors, actions and resources necessary to prevent suicide and promote mental well-being. Review the full policy and administrative procedures, here.

Support Team for Educational Partnership (STEP)

The School District of Philadelphia believes students learn best when their emotional, academic, social and physical needs are thoughtfully and holistically supported. The Support Team for Educational Partnerships (STEP) currently offers mental, behavioral and emotional health support services to students and families within 54 District schools. Each school team may incorporate up to four members including a Clinical Coordinator, a School Behavioral Consultant, a Case Manager and a Family Peer.

School-Wide Services:

STEP staff ensure they are woven into the fabric of their school’s community by providing multi-tiered support that increases the impact of individual services.

  • Teachers and administrators can receive support for school-wide initiatives and classroom management techniques through a trauma-informed lens.
  • This team provides guidance to school staff to help identify individual students who may benefit from additional support.
  • STEP also collaborates with families, community members, and external partners to bring in resources for their school community such as resource fairs, grief supports, anti violence programs, job fairs, food drives, and other initiatives.

Individual and Group Services:

STEP members can provide:

  • therapy, case management, behavior planning and peer support to individual students and families.
  • STEP will work in collaboration with the student, family and other identified support personnel to create a support plan, with identified goals and interventions.

Who can receive STEP?

Any student and family in a school with a STEP Program can be referred to STEP by the Counselor and/or Principal. The referral will be reviewed by the team to determine next steps and these services are provided at no cost to the student or family.

What types of services could the school STEP team provide?

  • Classroom observations
  • Teacher interviews/screenings
  • Family assessments
  • Treatment implementation and data collections for intervention tracking
  • Individual, group and family therapy (as appropriate)
  • Teacher coaching and consultation for behavioral interventions
  • Professional development focusing on mental health themes related to educational engagement and success
  • Community resource connections to increase accessibility to families
  • Student crisis assessment support in collaboration with counselors and Prevention & Intervention Liaisons

How can I learn more about the STEP program? Read additional information on the STEP program.

How can I find out if STEP is in my child’s school?
Use the map below to find your school. If it’s in your school, please contact your school counselor to learn more about the referral process.

School Counseling Support

School counselors play an integral role in the success of our students. School counselors are committed to the District’s mission of ensuring access and equity for all students. In partnership with parents/guardians, school staff, community partners and postsecondary institutions, school counselors:

  • Connect students with growth opportunities and resources that prepare them for post-secondary success
  • Assist students with the development of social/emotional, academic and career readiness-related skills to become effective students, responsible and productive citizens and lifelong learners
  • Work to address the needs of all students, aligned with the MTSS process, and provide targeted interventions, services and supports

What should I do next?
Parents and students are encouraged to contact their school counselor to discuss any area of concern. School counselors are trained to identify barriers and connect students and families with resources to ensure their success. If you need to identify your school counselor, please check here.

Kooth (Mental Health Support)

Kooth logo with a graphic of a slogan saying Mental Health MattersThe District partners with Kooth to provide free, confidential 24/7 counseling and mental health support for all District students in grades 6-12, with no cost to students or their families.

Kooth offers a wide-range of options for students including peer support, self-help tools, and counseling sessions with licensed providers in a secure online environment. Learn more about the platform in this video or read about the resources available here.

Kooth Resources for Students and Families

Kooth Resources for Students and Families

Topics on Kooth include:

  • Bullying
  • Drugs & Alcohol
  • Education
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Health & Well-being
  • Hobbies & Interests
  • Ideas & Opportunities
  • Identity
  • Independence
  • Law & Crime
  • Mental Health
  • News & Politics
  • Resources
  • Sex & Relationships
  • Work & Volunteering


There are also lots of activities available on the Kooth website, where students will be given instructions on how to complete the activity and things to think about while they do so. These activities will help the students with:

  • Connecting with others
  • Building helpful habits
  • Managing emotions
  • Expressing themselves


Students can access Kooth’s forum, where they can start or join a conversation on many different topics. These range on how to cope with anxiety to relaxing after a stressful day. Again, all posts on these forums are pre-moderated for safety.

We hope this helps with understanding the type of content we can provide and how this may be useful for students. Please reach out to our office if you have any other questions.

Student and Family Resources

Suicide/Crisis Hotlines & Text Services

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
(formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) offers 24/7 call, text, and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

Mental Health Delegate Hotline
7 days a week/24 hours per day

Crisis Text Line
In a crisis? Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime.
A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds. The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.

211 Helpline
The 211 Helpline is a free, 24/7, easy-to-remember helpline that connects individuals and families with important services, from everyday needs to educational opportunities and crisis support, and resources in our local communities.

Philly HopeLine
Call 1-833-PHL-HOPE (1-833-745-4673)
Philly HopeLine is a free helpline run by Uplift Center for Grieving Children staffed by our Master’s degree-level clinicians. The PHL is open to all Philadelphia caregivers and youth. Service is available in both English and Spanish.

Hours of Operation:
Mondays-Thursdays 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Fridays 1 – 4 p.m. (closed in June, July and August)
CLOSED on weekends, holidays, and during Uplift office closures

Horas en español:
Lunes de 10 a.m. a 1 p.m. y viernes de 1 p.m. a 4 p.m.

Hours for Grieving LGBTQ+ Youth:
Tuesdays 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Wednesdays 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursdays 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Uplift Center For Grieving Children
The Uplift Center is a safe and caring place where children, families and professionals can find or provide the support to heal and grow through grief.

Veterans Crisis Line
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255
The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects veterans 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a trained responder. The service is available to all veterans, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA healthcare.

Disaster Distress Helpline
Call or text 1-800-985-5990
The disaster distress helpline provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. The helpline is free, multilingual, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En español 1-888-628-9454
Use Lifeline Chat on the web
The Lifeline is a free, confidential crisis service that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Lifeline connects people to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

Local Mental Health Supports

NAMI Philadelphia
NAMI Philadelphia serves residents across our county with free mental health support, online groups, resources and education. Explore their local resources and Support & Education they offer.

Community Behavioral Health (CBH)
Community Behavioral Health (CBH) is a managed care organization that offers mental and behavioral health services. CBH works to help people with substance use or mental health challenges.

The Philadelphia Alliance for Child Trauma Services (PACTS)
Serves youth and their families in Philadelphia who have experienced potentially traumatic events and are living with traumatic stress. PACTS offers improved access, availability and quality of trauma-specific services.

The Attic Youth Center
The Attic Youth Center’s mission is to create opportunities for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community and to promote the acceptance of LGBTQ youth in society.

Healthy Minds Philly
Online tools and resources designed to support and improve the mental health and well-being of all Philadelphians.

Local Mental Health Crisis Centers & Hospitals

Mental Health Crisis Centers – Find a Center Near You
If you, a family member, or someone you know is struggling with a mental health crisis, these mental health crisis centers are in Philadelphia.

Einstein Crisis Response Center
5501 Old York Road, Philadelphia, PA 19141
Phone: 215-951-8300 | Website

Friends Hospital
4641 Roosevelt Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19124
Phone: 215-831-4600 | Website

Hall Mercer Community Mental Health
245 S 8th St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 215-829-5249 | Website

Northeast Treatment Centers
499 North 5th Street, Suite A
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Phone: 215-408-4944 | Website
Note: Outpatient Mental Health Support

Temple University Episcopal Hospital
100 E Lehigh Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Phone: 215-707-1200 | Website

The Bridge
1100 Adams Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19124
Phone: 215-342-5000 | Website
Note: Drug and Alcohol Inpatient/Outpatient support

Warren E Smith Community Mental Health Center
1315 Windrim Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141
Phone: 215-456-2737 | Website

1617 JFK Boulevard Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215-985-3315 | Website
Note: Sexual abuse or assault supports

Philadelphia Children’s Crisis Response Center
3300 Henry Ave., Falls Two Building, Third Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19129
Phone: 215-878-2600 | Website
Note: This facility provides services if the child is experiencing emotions or behaviors that may cause a life-threatening injury to him/herself or others.

Culturally and Racially Sensitive Mental Health Treatment Services Resources
Mental health treatment services provided by People of Color, Black, or African American professionals.

Philly Homes 4 Youth
Information, resources and support for youth who may be experiencing homelessness. Find and access local resources, like shelters, housing, food-banks, healthcare providers, and more. If you are currently experiencing homelessness or need immediate assistance, please contact the Synergy Hotline at 1-888-HOUSE-15 (1-888-468-7315).

Violence Prevention & Support

Safe2Say Something
Safe2Say Something is a youth violence prevention program. The program teaches youth and adults how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and to “say something” BEFORE it is too late.

Teen Dating Violence
This website offers resources for youth, adults and communities interested in learning more about teen dating violence.

Journals & Workbooks

PASH All The Feels Journal
Promoting Adolescent Student Health Program (PASH) – A journal to write down your thoughts and feelings to understand them better.

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