Fox Chapel Area School District has partnered with a California-based firm to help link students and staffers to mental health professionals.
The board recently approved a contract of nearly $20,000 with Care Solace to provide a web-based navigation system.
Families can use the service in conjunction with the school district or independently and anonymously.
Board members said they were glad to sign on with the service in addressing mental health needs.
“The support for families and students is very necessary right now,” board Vice President Ronald Frank said.
Superintendent Mary Catherine Reljac likened it to a concierge service to access therapists, outside services and mental health providers.
“That’s freeing up a family to concentrate on their needs, and freeing up our counseling staff and our mental health providers to work with other student needs,” she said. “We’re really pleased to offer it certainly. There still is a national shortage of therapists and counselors and mental health providers, and we recognize that.
“We’re hoping this is one more opportunity and a service that can help shorten the time from someone having a need to being able to receive support for that need.”
The district did not respond as of press time Jan. 20 to questions about why it specifically chose Care Solace to provide the service.
Care Solace officials said Fox Chapel is the first school district in Western Pennsylvania to partner with them. It has agreements with school districts in the eastern part of the state and many across the country.
The Fox Chapel Area district would get reports from Care Solace to help identify some needs while at the same time protecting user privacy.
The agreement was approved Jan. 10 runs through June 30, 2023. It’s being paid for with federal American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund monies.
Care Solace’s headquarters is in North San Diego County. The organization’s website states that it serves 3 million students, 150,000 school staff members and 12 million parents and families.
“At Care Solace, we expand on existing school support structures and work alongside school staff to ensure everyone — students, staff, and their families — get connected to care, regardless of insurance coverage,” said Chad Castruita, founder and CEO of Care Solace.
“We have a team of care companions who are available around the clock, including holidays and weekends, which is incredibly important since one-third of our calls for help occur outside of school hours.
”By providing a hand to hold through the process, the rate at which families get appointed to care increases substantially, from the national average of 18% to more than 50%. We feel honored to be able to make an impact and help people turn their lives around every day.”
District enrollment has about 4,150 students.
Care Solace officials said they hope to have a Fox Chapel Area system up and running by the end of February.
The district plans to post more information about the upcoming system as it becomes available via its website, fcasd.edu.