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Burbank Unified extends service agreement with Family Service Agency

Burbank Unified extends service agreement with Family Service Agency
Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill highlighted some of the changes in the yearly counseling and service contract the district has with the Family Service Agency of Burbank. (File Photo)

An alliance between the Burbank Unified School District and Family Service Agency of Burbank was extended another year during a school board meeting Thursday.

The board voted 5-0 to commit $360,000 for general counseling, support services for district at-risk students and mental-health services for qualifying special-education students.

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“I feel that FSA has been successfully supporting our students and it’s working really well,” said Tami Schiern, the district’s director of special education and psychological services. “We have collaborative meetings where we sit and trouble-shoot and we problem-solve ... It’s been an ongoing process over these two years to figure out a way to work best collaboratively, and I feel like we’ve really successfully done it this past year.”

All money will be allocated from federal and state mental-health funds or from the Local Control Funding Formula Supplemental Grant Fund, with the largest portion, $250,000, dedicated to special-needs students.

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During the 2017-18 school year, 142 district special-education students were provided direct services by the Family Service Agency, using a measure known as a unit of care, which is defined as an individual, group session or direct consultation lasting between 30 to 90 minutes.

Additionally, the agency provided parent counseling and education in support of students’ educational, social and emotional needs at school.

One change to the new contract was noted by Supt. Matt Hill.

“The services that we needed at John Muir Middle School as well as at Miller Elementary School for our behavioral students [showed] that they needed a higher level of care,” Hill said. “What’s added in this contract is 2½ days of higher-level clinical care for those students. So, what we were able to do is we adjusted the maximum amount of students we have in the traditional program in this contract down to 75. It’s still the same dollar amount total for the contract, but we’re able to differentiate the services for the students.”

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In terms of special needs, most students served in the program were in sixth grade or higher, with 2,039 units of care from the total of 2,560 dedicated to secondary education.

The $250,000 in funding for the counseling and service will come from a mix of national and state health funds and grants.

After special needs, the next largest portion of funding is $80,000 from Local Control Funding Formula grants, which will be dedicated for district foster youth, homeless students, English learners and socio-economically disadvantaged students.

A Family Service Agency advocate or case manager can provide an array of services to eligible students beyond counseling, which includes providing information for parents/guardians regarding before- and after-school care options, offering referrals for medical and dental needs and reinforcing connections to academic counseling and guidance.

This past year, the agency served 69 adults (primarily parents and guardians) and 102 students. That group of students was categorized into six pre-kindergarten children, 37 elementary-school students and 59 middle or high school pupils.

Armond Aghakhanian, board vice president, said he was hoping that future reports could be broken down further into categories.

“I’d like to add if they can also provide us with any kind of data in terms of numbers of foster youth that they’re dealing with,” he said. “I’d like to see some kind of information of what our district is dealing with currently.”

Those students and adults received 2,238 units of care, with a unit of care defined as an individual, group session or consultation between 30 and 50 minutes.

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The Family Service Agency also self-reported that it was nearly perfect as it scored 100% in several categories, such as emergency and crisis intervention counseling, mental healthcare and counseling, medical and dental care, legal advocacy and education support.

The agency also posted scores of 97% completion in employment and job training and professional legal services.

“I would like to see if we can have a report back in six months or at least by the end of the first semester so we can see whether or not this is a good fit,” board member Steve Ferguson said. “I don’t doubt the goodwill and the ability of FSA to deliver services, but I also want to make sure we are exploring all options for this particular population that deserves special care and focus.”

The final $30,000 will be to supplement $245,000 already set aside by Burbank to pay for general counseling services for all district schools.

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