Healthy Schools Success Stories | Deschutes County Oregon

A Few Worthy Accomplishments of Note…..

  • Launched Healthy Schools at Bend Senior and La Pine High Schools, providing service in the following areas:  prevention planning to address school, student and family needs; suicide prevention education and teacher coaching; substance use screenings and referrals to interventions; coordination of linkages between school and health care services; education to families, school staff, and community partners about student health needs and resources available to address needs
  • Began coordinating the School Health Improvement Plan process to build specific plans for Bend Senior and La Pine High that address the needs and requests they have, for example one school requested support with suicide prevention curriculum, another wanted to coordinate their drug policy violation protocol with the School Resource Officer
  • Began revision of the districts Health Education plan for all middle and high schools to make sure students are receiving the best resources and that teachers are trained and supported
  • Figured out our goals and objectives so we can measure our progress
  • Developed an extensive program and evaluation plan, providing our Healthy Schools Roadmap!

Working together for La Pine Middle and High School UpShift

Quote from Deputy Woods, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy in La Pine: “If I didn’t know about Upshift or it didn’t exist, my substance abuse related contacts with students would have a much less concrete recommendation to seek resources or assistance. My contacts generally end in a warning or a citation and I don’t have much to do with it after the fact unless I have ongoing coincidental contact with the student. I used to just suggest to the student or their parents that they seek out counseling or addiction services without any real tangible direction for them to look beyond just the county health department or online search results. There wasn’t any real tool for follow-through here and it left the responsibility for additional action either in the hands of the family or the court with a large gap between the two. Upshift provides a real resource with most of the common barriers removed to bridge that gap that I can name, point to, and feel good about suggesting because it provides an actual chance for help and follow through. I expect to see a much higher rate of success among students dealing with substance abuse because instead of sending the student or their family out into the unknown to address a problem they may not have the tools or resources to solve, this brings help, support, and options to the student directly.”

The Healthy Schools Public Health Specialist (PHS) is providing coordination to assure the La Pine High Upshift* program is being implemented efficiently across multiple agencies. The PHS has collaborated across partners to establish additional entry points into the program so that more students can receive the benefit through the school. Upshift requires coordination across multiple school staff and agency partners, including school administrators, school counselors, the Health Educator at the La Pine Community Health Center, and a licensed behavioral health care provider. The PHS identified gaps in workflow between these service providers and is now serving as the coordinator between them to assure the program is implemented as efficiently and effectively as possible to provide early intervention and treatment for students who use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. The PHS has also collaborated with the School Resource Officer, a Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputy, to establish a referral process for students into the Upshift program in lieu of legal consequences. The process of establishing SRO referrals into the program has also allowed the program to begin accepting referrals directly from parents or school staff. Previously, the program was only available to students who violated the school substance use or possession policy, as an alternative to out-of-school suspension. Prior to SRO referrals, students found in possession or under the influence of substances by the SRO were given a Minors in Possession charge and faced legal recourse. The Upshift program is an effective early intervention and treatment program for adolescent substance use that address the root cause of substance use. Allowing SRO, staff, and parent referrals into Upshift provides more equitable access to all students for this effective risk-reduction program.

*Upshift is a program recommended and supported by Deschutes County Prevention and Health Promotion. Our DC P&HP team has a Upshift Strategist who provides adoption, implementation, and technical assistance support, and conducts assessments and evaluations of the program. Upshift is an evidence-based “screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment” (SBIRT) program for adolescents who use substance. There’s two arms: 1. A 2-4 session brief intervention delivered by a trained school staff or community partner for students at a lower risk of substance use disorder (“addiction”), and 2. A referral to a licensed behavioral health care provider for students with higher risk of substance use disorder. This program has historically been implemented as an alternative to out-of-school suspension for substance use policy violations so the primary point of entry is through school administrators in lieu of suspension for discipline cases. Allowing SRO and staff/parent referrals without a school discipline case is a new expansion to this program model being initiated and explored in La Pine, based on La Pine’s needs and interests.

Teaching at Bend High

A Public Health Specialist (PHS) with the Healthy Schools program increased capacity to implement high-quality suicide prevention education at Bend Senior High School. The PHS reviewed and taught two evidence-based programs that promote trusted suicide prevention resources and encourage students who are struggling to reach out for support. Maintaining fidelity with these research-tested programs is the only way to assure that the education is effective at preventing suicide. Teachers also benefit when guest speakers visit their classrooms. Christine Ewing, a Bend Senior High School Counselor, shared that “Teachers always appreciate when ‘experts’ get a chance to come and speak. It gives students a break from listening to teachers in addition to an opportunity to learn from someone designated to this expert role.” The PHS also saved School Counselors, who typically teach these lessons, almost 19 hours of direct instruction time in 11 class periods. Instead, School Counselors were available to provide critical support and resources for students. 

A Refreshed Class at La Pine High

The PHS collaborated with the Student Success staff and school admin on the revamp of the Freshmen Foundations classes. The teachers had shared with the PHS that the classes were “chaotic”, a term used across the board by the 3 teachers teaching the class in the first semester. After talking with the teachers and learning about this area of improvement, I asked for some context from our Vice Principal, and we began brainstorming ideas of how the Freshmen Foundations Class could be used. Leslie then sent out an email with these ideas, which prompted more feedback from the teachers which then led to Admin to make the class graded and a meeting between admin, Student Success, and the PHS to think of how the class can be reformatted. Admin came up with the formatting; the Student Success staff found an appropriate curriculum that La Pine High was able to purchase and the PHS has been reaching out to the resources on campus to coordinate guest speakers so students can learn about the services available to them and also gains some exposure to the type of careers out there. Following the Family Access Network (FAN) Advocates guest-speaking visit to the classes, the Advocate reported that 7 students, approximately 6% of the Freshman class, made contact with the FAN Advocate to connect to the service and receive resources to support their education and well-being.

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