Active involvement from law enforcement, schools, service providers, and families lay the foundation for a robust school responder model structured for success. Identifying and integrating these key stakeholders at the beginning of the process ensures that the resulting framework aligns with collective goals and addresses general and partner-specific barriers to buy-in and engagement.
A cross-system core team is responsible for identifying and executing all planning activities for initiative development and implementation. This team also establishes an infrastructure that facilitates productive and valuable use of time including work plans, timelines, roles and assignments, and consistent communication patterns.
School-based staff will have direct insights about student needs and will be key to implementing responder and diversion practices daily. Key partners include leadership/administration, faculty, and student support staff. This includes superintendents and principals with decision-making authority, lower-level administrators who may have more time but similar authority, teachers, guidance counselors, and other school health and mental health staff.
Parents, family members, and caregivers have a personal stake in their youth’s success and intimate knowledge of their youth’s needs and challenges. Incorporating their participation into the design and implementation of your school responder model increases the likelihood of individual buy-in and engagement of families of referred youth.
Youth provide valuable, experience-based insights into their needs and those of their peers. They are critical resources for program design and implementation and offer unique perspectives on the most effective ways to engage and assist students. Their involvement in the planning process increases the likelihood that they and their peers will buy-in to the program.
Law enforcement officers are often partner with school staff in responding to school infractions in the traditional framework. They are essential partners for implementing alternative responses that prevent justice system involvement. Law enforcement leaders with decision-making authority, those officers working in schools, and officers in the broader community are all integral to implementation.
The buy-in and engagement of system partners that are responsible for determining the justice response to youth infractions in school will strengthen the school’s movement away from justice system referrals whenever possible. Key partners include the local prosecutor, probation department, and court.
Community providers bring a behavioral health perspective to youth disciplinary challenges and provide the direct services that enable the school responder model’s functioning. Decision-making leaders from local mental health and substance use agencies, as well as those agencies that specialize in childhood trauma, and key agency staff who will work directly with the school should be included. A state or local expert on insurance payment mechanisms for behavioral health services, including Medicaid, can also provide critical support to planning and implementation.