Speaker: Ryan Etheridge, Project ACTIVATE Director, Cleveland County Schools
How can the System of Care principles strengthen the approach schools have to support children, youth, and families?
Ryan Etheridge: The system of care of principles really helped strengthen our approach as a school. Um as we try to support the students in our school in their families as they navigate what is just a complicated, confusing system for people not in the mental health world. Um You know, for me, I was an elementary school teacher, high school administrator and I kind of came at this mental health support from the side. And I just realized how, how often the challenges we're facing in the school. Um We're same issues families are facing at home um that we were trying to navigate similar systems and that often times we were doing that kind of alone. And so when we were introduced a system of care a few years ago, it really helped us to be able to center our services on those unique needs of the families. Um I had a lot more awareness of what was going on in my community and how, how to even help families navigate that and access those services. There are a lot of people out there, a lot of organizations and they're doing their very best with the people that come to them. Um Sometimes they're serving similar people in similar needs. Uh but having people at the table to, to talk about what is our kind of network of support that we're providing around students and families really helps us organize our entire community around the child who has special needs. Um Sometimes this comes up and we'll have a student and their family only speak Spanish. And so we're looking for some service provider who is able to speak Spanish, so we can make a referral there. And not all agencies have that like we're rural community. So not everyone has that. And so when we're at a table and we can talk about like where, what are our relative areas of strength and what resources we have, we can really help families navigate this, this system, this complicated system and, and, and together, what we see is that we start making progress. Um The more we talk, the more we share, the more we communicate, the more we're centered around the child and the family, the better able we are to meet the needs. And so, um system of care principles have been vital to that. Very, very thankful to have this going on in our community and looking, always looking for ways to grow it.