Student assistance Programs

What are Student Assistance Programs (SAPs)?

Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) evolved from the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) model of the 1960s–1970s. Recognition of the importance of removing all barriers to work performance translated to school policy in the 1980s when SAPs developed in the vein of EAPs. SAPs at first only addressed substance abuse in students, but soon expanded to help address a wide range of issues that impede adolescent academic achievement.

As Gary Anderson writes in the first published model for Student Assistance Programs, “Any student assistance program effort demonstrates that a school system recognizes, first, that such problems do plague students and, second, that a responsible system of adults must respond and help.” – California Department of Education


One Student/Family at a Time Approach

What distinguishes the Brief Risk Reduction Interview and Intervention Model (BRRIMM) approach to SAP is that it turns every referral into an opportunity for SAP staff to meet with and create a relationship with the student/family. Given that public education can be likened to a speeding train with some on board and others left at the platform, it is important to build listening to individuals/families into the response and support system of the school.

When the Breakthrough SAP staff listen and identify the barriers to learning faced by individual students, it informs the prevention plan and it has the capacity to enlighten CVUSD about changes that benefit all the students. This model sustains because it begins with listening carefully to the first prevention partner – the student and his family – using what we call a “One-Student-At-A-Time” approach. The Brief Risk Reduction Interview and Intervention Model was developed to use as the initial introduction to the district-wide SAP.

Breakthrough Student Assistance Program

Breakthrough Student Assistance Program (SAP) helps students and their families navigate their way through the school system safely and successfully.

BRRIIM, the Brief Risk Reduction Interview and Intervention Model, is an early intervention model for youth starting to struggle with behavioral issues that include alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and other drugs, violence, and other barriers to learning. It has been used successfully in California for over 20 years. The BRRIIM process identifies the individual and family strengths and resources, then customizes the prevention plan to meet their needs and priorities.  

The BRRIIM SAP is unique among SAPs because of how it uses policy, infrastructure, referrals, individualized engagement process and data to keep the services relevant and on target to meet the outcomes of each partner. The chief goals of this process are to develop a trusting relationship with the family and together to develop a plan for the student to maximize their education and get through the school system safely and successfully.

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