Hi.  This presentation is brought to you by the CAFÉ Technical Assistance Center.  The second in this series, the training provides targeted information on supported education and we’re glad that you’ve joined us.  Getting A Degree Through Supported Education.

This session will explore further: what is supported education?  Where can we find supported education?  And how can it be used to help individuals with mental health needs meet their educational and professional goals.

So, exactly what is supported education?  Well, supported education at according to the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1986 is:  (see slide above)

The definition is not exactly strength based as where it used to today.  It does talk about the weaknesses of an individual always found that in 1986 it did open the door for consumers of mental health services to have new options in their secondary educations so let’s talk about that further.

Supported education actually provides supports to assist people with psychiatric disabilities to take advantage of skill, career, education, and interpersonal development opportunities within a normalizing academic environment.

It creates community partnerships made up of mental health consumers, family members, agencies, providers, and colleges with the intention of pooling resources to maximize educational opportunities and implement outcomes for persons with psychiatric disabilities.

Supported education also modifies existing educational environments by making them more receptive and supportive to students with psychiatric disabilities.

Supported education has the potential to provide access to normalizing learning environments access to cultural and recreational resources available in educational setting opportunities to strengthen basic competencies opportunities to explore individual interests and opportunities to earn degrees, certificates or vocational trainings.

So exactly how can this be used?  Well first of all it does open the doors of opportunity to students with psychiatric disabilities who had problems in the past with their educational programs.  It provides access to educational programs that an individual may not have had before it also provides support that is necessary in order for them to succeed and then it wraps that with accommodations that make it easy for students was psychiatric disabilities to take advantage of educational opportunities and fun of them.

Supported education programs will vary in structure.  They will look a little different from one another.  They operate according to the needs and assets of each community and a dependent on a partnership between organizations and colleges within the community.

Supported education may include outreach and recruitment, special orientations, specialize transitional classes, identify a staff that are familiar with mental health issues, educational coaching, liaison and service coordination.

Supported education may also include special crisis intervention procedures, peer counseling and support groups, clubs and social activities that are geared specifically toward people with mental health issues, awards ceremonies, newsletters and communications that are targeted for this population, and booked and scholarship funds.

The list continues:  they may also include research and evaluation to determine what approaches are best they can include no takers, the use of a tape recorder, books on tape, test taking facilitation, changes in timelines for assignments, and changes in format or method of completing assignments.

As you can see this is a very extensive list and can also include incomplete rather than failing grades, arrangements to leave and return to class, registration assistance, financial aid assistance (wading through all of that paper work), academic counseling, assistance in managing time and deadlines.

And finally supported education can also include assistance in developing strategies for problem solving, Assistance in applying for forgiveness of previous loans because of disability status.  Many students had loans tried college and didn’t succeed and so they have loans that they owe money back on and they can actually (Inaudible) for forgiveness on previous loans.  Assistance with managing disclosure issues: who do you tell, how do you tell.  Assistance in identifying learning disabilities that may accompany their mental health needs.  Advocacy with faculty for accommodations and then ongoing Emotional support.

So, is supported education required?  Although colleges and universities provide accommodations and academic counseling to all students they usually don’t offer the kind of personal support most is the psychiatric disabilities to meet the challenges returning to school. 

So, were these accommodations?  An accommodation is a change that helps the student overcome or work around the disability.

Once a student has sufficiently documented that he or she has a qualifying disability a college is responsible for providing reasonable accommodations were modifications that do not result in an unfair advantage, that do not require significant alteration to the program or activity and do not result in lowering the academic or technical standards or casa college to incur undue financial hardship.

Just as many other programs for persons with disabilities have been tested by the courts, so has supported education.  And not all requests for accommodations have been found reasonable by the courts.  Requests are often sorted out on informal levels between students and the college or specific professors.

So the question becomes the legal definition of related services and accommodations.  Support services are not required by law unless Provided for in IEP or the 504 plan.  And you might ask yourself what about the IDEA The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  IDEA only applies to public school systems and ends at grade 12, so supported education becomes a program that colleges self select the us not all schools have supported education.

Where can you find supported education?  Well, you might begin with a simple call to your state’s department of education and ask about supported education.  You may have to ask for the secondary education department.  You can also check the Internet to link to the state department of education for a specific school and call them as well.

When you call the state department of education asked them “do you know of any colleges or universities that have a supported education program for students with a psychiatric disability.”  If they do not use this term as than one term they use for a program that supports the return to school by persons with mental health issues.

When you call directly to a college ask them specifically do you have supported education program for students with a psychiatric disability and further as to when I contact to learn more about this.

What you’ll need to do:  first of all you’re going to have to find a school or higher education program that offers supported education.  You’ll need to provide information that proves you are eligible for the program.  Your mental health provider should be able to assist with this.  You must follow through on all forms, requirements, and appointments in order to enter into and stay in the program.

What if they have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about?  And this is a possibility.  They can very much for their time.  Find one school that has a program even if it’s not in your community, call around and find a school that has a program and ask them if they know of another program in your area that provides supported education similar to theirs.  You can also call your state advocacy center.  Ask them if they can assist you in locating a program that provides support and accommodations while you’re attending a secondary school.

Well, what happens when you hit a wall?  Well, possibly, the people you’re talking to are in the wrong department or you may be using a term that is different than those used by the staff and they just do not recognize what it is that you’re asking for.  They may never have heard up supported education but that does not mean that they are against the idea.  Possibly, with a little bit of advocacy and a little more information they would like and begin to start a supported education program within their school system as well.

Ultimately, it’s all about you.  You need to understand supported education and one can offer.  You’ll have to locate supported education Programs and follow through with all of their requirements.  And state to the plan an advocate for your mental health and educational needs.

The next few slides are some additional resources and information you might find helpful.  These are also included on a handout on the website for your further reference.  “Supported Education Strategies for People with Severe Mental Illness: A Review of Evidence Based Practice” reviews literature related to the study of evidence based practice of the provision of supported education and provides a chronological history of efforts from various institutions and mental health and educational facilities in North America.

Supported Education for Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities.  This is a presentation of supported education that’s intended to situate supported education models in relationship to other mental health programs and to related interventions by educational institutions.  It outlines what is known about the extent of implementation of supported education programs, and summarizes the evidence base for supported education.

Know your rights.  Another resource for you, with information and technical assistance, is the Americans with disabilities act website.

Thank you for joining us today.  It’s a beginning and only a beginning.  Please watch our web site for more information and resources to help you meet your educational, professional, and work goals.  The Café Technical Assistance Center is supported by SAMHSA to operate one of its five national technical assistance centers providing technical assistance training and resources that facilitate the restructuring of the mental Health System through effective consumer-directed approaches for adults with serious mental illness across the country.  Again, thank you very much.