This section covers many of the formal processes and components of creating partnerships and plans to implement school mental health initiatives. But planning and partnerships happen at multiple different levels in a school, district, region and/or county. Alameda County’s guide, “How to Start and Sustain a School Health Initiative,” provides helpful high-level strategies for partnerships that may be coming together at a regional or county level. Comparatively, the “School Mental Health Quality Guide on Teaming” provides helpful context for school district or school site teams. The section pulls together resources that may be helpful for both levels of partnerships and planning.
This section and resources will help teams begin to identify the goals, outcomes, key activities, and resources for a school mental health initiative – both at a regional level or site level, depending on the scope of your school mental health initiative.
Some considerations for this process:
- Create a leadership team. Develop a core group of leaders that align around a shared vision and have the credibility and relationships to engage others. The leaders should represent key sectors, be passionate about the work, and be truly committed to a collaborative process. This group may likely have come together prior to launching a needs assessment and may be critical in guiding that process. This core team of leaders may become a more formal body to lead the school health initiative.
- Identify community and school partners to engage. If not already part of your leadership team, some key partners to engage early are: County Offices of Education, School District Leadership, County Behavioral Health DepartmentDepending on your needs assessment and information about resources available in the community to support the school mental health initiative, other partners you may want to engage are: Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs), First 5 programs, community health centers, private and Medi-Cal health plans, community mental health providers, hospitals, local philanthropies, business groups, parent groups, and community representatives.
- Develop a shared mission and vision, scope of work, and timeline for implementation. An implementation timeline should take into consideration the school calendar including when schools typically hire staff (i.e. March-June) and capitalize on existing time (i.e. in-service training for school staff) to prepare school and community partners for collaborative work.
- Clarify language use and terminology. Schools, County Behavioral Health Departments, and community partners use different language to describe services provided and student/youth needs. Creating common lists of terms, acronyms, and definitions will help support how your team communicates with each other.
- Create memorandum of understanding (MOUs) or working agreements. MOUs and/or contracts may be helpful at both the school site and service level (i.e. between school site providers and schools) and between leadership entities (i.e. between COEs and county behavioral health departments).
A step-by-step guide, for regional or county teams, through the stages it takes to implement an initiative. Specifically, this includes creating a plan, formalizing agreements through contracts, and creating high level strategies. (Alameda County Center for Healthy Schools and Communities)
A guide, for school district or school site teams, with background information on teaming, best practices, possible action steps, examples from the field, and resources. (National Center for School Mental Health)
Descriptions of how local entities in seven counties are partnering to advance school-based mental health services. Information is provided about what services are included in the initiatives, who the lead partners are and how the partnerships evolved, how coordination is supported, and what funding is leveraged. (California School-Based Health Alliance)
Summaries of grants awarded to establish mental health partnerships between County Mental Health or Behavioral Health Departments and educational entities. (Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission)
A resource for understanding the types of regional partner organizations for delivering school mental health services and programs. (California School-Based Health Alliance)
Where should your team start? Do you provide services to schools throughout the county, district, and/or SELPA? Or should you focus on a subset first? How do you decide where to start? This resource highlights examples of scope from a couple counties and identifies some key questions to consider when planning where to start. (California School-Based Health Alliance)
Advancing Education Effectiveness: Interconnecting School Mental Health and School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
This guide provides a framework to connect school mental health services with PBIS. It includes many resources and tools for developing the systems, collaborations, and practices to do this work. Some helpful tools for partnerships include:
- Appendix B, Building an Inclusive Community of Practice – Four Simple Questions (page 144)
- Appendix E, Implementation Guide: District and Community Cross Systems Team (page 150)
(Center on PBIS)
An online learning environment for use by any stakeholder involved in active implementation and scaling up of programs and innovation. Some specific tools:
(National Implementation Research Network)
A template illustrating the components of an MOU that school-community partnerships may include. You will also need to consider relevant state law in any contract development in California. (National Center for School Mental Health)
Sample MOUs/Other Agreements
An LOA between an LEA and school-based mental health provider. (Alameda County)
A working agreement between a participating school district, county office of education, and county behavioral health department. (Monterey County)
Boilerplate contract between county behavioral health department and school district for the provision of therapeutic services for students in the district. (Monterey County)
An MOU for a county-level partnership across various youth-serving agencies and entities. (Placer County)
Example of Team Agendas
An example of the discussion topics and content covered at monthly leadership team meetings. This is a helpful resource for considering how to onboard members and build a monthly calendar of coordination meetings.