The Homer School District partners with Family Counseling Services (FCS) to provide counseling services for students through a school-based mental health clinic. Professional counselors from FCS provide services right at the school, making it easy for students to benefit from individualized mental health counseling without leaving the school building.
One in five children experiences a mental health challenge. The earlier children and adolescents receive services to address their mental health needs, the better the outcome. School-based counseling helps schools and parents identify these needs and address them appropriately. In-school services are convenient for both children and families. Because counseling is provided during the school day, there is decreased difficulty with scheduling, transportation, and attendance. School-based counseling allows families better access to the counselors and resources available to them.
The counseling provided by a school-based clinic does not replace counseling services provided at the school. Both can provide individual and group counseling and work with parents. School social workers provide all the counseling suggested on a child’s Individual Education Plan and address the needs of the child in relation to learning. The FCS counselor in a school-based clinic does more formal diagnosis and provides counseling to a small percentage of children who have more troubling mental health issues. Many issues can impact learning, so there may be an instance where services overlap.
Counseling services are geared to the needs of each student but often help them learn and enhance basic and advanced skills including, but not limited to: regulation of emotions, stress tolerance and reduction, mindfulness, self-care, effective interpersonal communication skills, and conflict resolution. Counseling helps students experience improved self-esteem and decreased feelings of depression and anxiety. Through this intervention, students can increase positive interactions with peers, family and other adults by replacing ineffective behaviors with positive strategies that help them achieve their goals, and meet academic requirements and classroom expectations while leading healthier lifestyles.
The school-based counseling services are available in the Homer Elementary, Intermediate, Junior High and High School buildings. Students can be referred to the program by their parents, guardians, social workers, guidance counselors, principals, and others. In addition to the direct services provided to students, the counselors meet with parents or guardians at the start of services and at least once a month thereafter.
Mental health counseling services are billed through Family Counseling Services. FCS accepts most third party insurances including Medicaid, Medicare & Child Health Plus and offers discounted fees to those who qualify based on income and family size.
We all must work together to meet the mental health needs of our youth. Having counseling clinics in schools is one way to add to the crucial work our schools are already doing. If you would like more information about the school-based counseling program and other services, please call Family Counseling Services at (607) 749-0013.
Family Counseling Services is a non-profit organization that offers mental health, chemical dependency, and school-based counseling, as well as prevention services through its prevention division, Cortland Prevention Resources.