Recognizing that professional development is often dedicated to statewide requirements geared toward classroom educators, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education saw a need for role-specific professional development for school-based mental health professionals. After conversations with LEAs, they partnered with the School Counseling Specialist in the Office of Career and College Readiness to conduct a statewide professional development survey for all school mental health professionals. Thirty percent of certified professionals responded, and the results displayed role-specific professional development opportunities as a high priority need. In addition, professionals indicated a desire to partner with other school mental health professionals and learn more about how to effectively use school specific interventions with students.
With help from the School Based Mental Health Grant, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is implementing role-specific professional development across the state as a retention tool, where the roles and responsibilities of each mental health professional (counselor, social worker, psychologist, etc.) are thoroughly examined. Grounded in the Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework, they developed a district practice profile (soon to be released to the field) where they include essential components of the MTSS framework. The intent is to provide a common framework for districts as they think about how districts and schools are structured to support the needs of all students, both in school and beyond.
The amount of school mental health professionals that have attended the professional development meetings over the past few months is a testament to their impact. These professionals are not only attending their own role’s professional development meetings but learning about others’ roles and responsibilities in the field. The wide-spread attendance proves their desire to be in partnership with one another and learn from the greater school-based mental health provider community at large.
Hear more about Rhode Island’s role-specific professional development opportunities on their podcast episode of In Session.