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  • PALS

October 27, 2021 Meeting Minutes - School Anxiety, MAPS, resolve, CACTIS

PALS Meeting Minutes

October 27, 2021 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom

Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.

School Anxiety

We have often discussed student anxiety. Since the onset of the pandemic we have frequently discussed the increase of anxiety in children. We have discussed the multitude of ways anxiety interferes with student education. We discussed many of the same topics today and relevant parts of last months meeting minutes are included below. We also further discussed the MAPS program and CACTIS which also relates to resolve Crisis Services.


MAPS (Maximizing Adolescent Potentials) "is a research, public service, and training program dedicated to the prevention of drug and alcohol problems among youth, the promotion of adolescent mental health, and the development of capable young people. MAPS works with schools, families, communities, children, and adolescents in a variety of settings."

"MAPS is a program of the University of Pittsburgh, School of Education, and Allegheny County Drug and Alcohol Prevention Programs. MAPS is certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs. The following list provides a snapshot of the various components of the MAPS program."

Program Overview

  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services - provides school-based and school-linked mental health and alcohol, tobacco and other drug services throughout Allegheny County.

  • Communities in Action for Peace (CAP) - promotes healthy communities by reducing violence and its causes in a nontraditional and culturally sensitive manner.

  • Health Program Evaluation and Research - focuses on the design, development, implementation and evaluation of evidence–based health programs and services.

  • Student Assistance Program Research Center - investigates the effectiveness of student assistance programs in linking students to mental health and drug and alcohol services.

  • Faculty & Staff - here you'll find information about the people working at the MAPS program.

From resolve Crisis Services

Crisis intervention and hospital diversion are at the forefront of resolve Crisis Services. Anyone who resides in Allegheny County can access our services, regardless of ability to pay or type of crisis. At resolve, our mantra is that everyone defines his or her own crisis. We can help with problems such as these:

  • You've had a bad day or a series of bad days.

  • You're dealing with the loss of a loved one or cherished pet.

  • Your workplace has become stressful.

  • You're having trouble finding a job.

  • You're worried that you may have a mental illness but aren't sure where to go for help.

  • You feel that you may have a drug or alcohol addiction.

  • You want to help a loved one with any of these concerns.

A crisis isn't limited to one condition or concern. We're here to help you work through any problem that you may be having. Our team has specialized training in crisis work. Many members of our staff have faced crises in their own lives and can offer empathy and understanding.

Phone Counseling 24 Hours a Day You can call anytime and speak with a trained crisis expert. Call our 24-hour hotline at 1-888-7-YOU-CAN (1-888-796-8226). Mobile Crisis Unit Our mobile crisis team will travel anywhere within Allegheny County to provide support services. Some people who use this service are homebound or can't travel to our walk-in center. Others feel safer in their own surroundings. resolve knows these needs and will meet you wherever you are in the county. Our mobile team also offers wellness checkups and aids law enforcement with volatile, non-criminal cases. Call our Mobile Crisis Unit at 1-888-7-YOU-CAN (1-888-796-8226). Walk-In Center You can visit us without an appointment at our walk-in center in the East End of Pittsburgh. Our doors are always open when you need to talk about your concerns or those of a family member or friend. Our walk-in center is an inviting, safe space that has public and private areas. While we don't provide medical services, our nursing staff will perform a basic health assessment for anyone who may need residential services. Residential Services Our residential service is a short-term alternative to hospitalization for people with mental health problems. We accept people ages 14 and older for up to 72 hours. A resolve staff member or doctor may refer our walk-in and phone clients to this service. Our trained nurses perform basic health assessments but do not provide advanced medical care. If you or a family member expect using this service, be sure to bring your medications with you. There is no pharmacy on-site.


CACTIS (Child and Adolescent Crisis Team Intervention Services) supports children, teens, and their families for up to six weeks. In most cases, treatment consists of three visits per week on an outpatient basis.

(CACTIS) provides telephone support, mobile crisis response, and mobile scheduled visits to identified children, adolescents, and their families who reside in Allegheny County. Benefits of enrolling in CACTIS services include:

• respond to school concerns when unable to speak to parents

• scheduled visits for school refusal or issues

• support treatment goals in the community

• fill gaps during transitions in treatment

• crisis response anytime anywhere

• dedicated line and fewer questions for requesting crisis response

• wellness checks after discharge from hospital

"Our team helps kids and family members with coping skills and teaches ways to prevent a crisis by looking for triggers. CACTIS runs under the umbrella of resolve Crisis Services but is for children and teens awaiting treatment."

Contact the CACTIS program at 412-864-5067 or through the resolve hotline at 1-888-796-8226 or via email at

CACTIS Services Referral Form 2017
Download PDF • 325KB

Chid and Adolescent MH Services Resource Guide
Download PDF • 473KB

Many school districts include information on Mental Health Supports on their websites. If you do not see any on your school or district website, ask where you can find out more. Here are few examples:


Working Together to Break the Cycle of Anxiety Inducing Occurrences

Students suffering from anxiety is nothing new. The intensity of the anxiety might be more so this year than in the past, especially if the student is re-entering the classroom for the first time since March 2020. Suffering from anxiety on its own is difficult, it can also interfere with a student's learning. Figuring out what type of anxiety a student is struggling with can provide the insight needed to come up with accommodations that can relieve the stress, unlock the brain, and help a student get back on track. Some students may struggle with:

  • Separation anxiety: When children are worried about being separated from caregivers. These kids can have a hard time at school drop-offs and throughout the day.

  • Social anxiety: When children are excessively self-conscious, making it difficult for them to participate in class and socialize with peers.

  • Selective mutism: When children have a hard time speaking in some settings, like at school around the teacher.

  • Generalized anxiety: When children worry about a wide variety of everyday things. Kids with generalized anxiety often worry particularly about school performance and can struggle with perfectionism.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: When children’s minds are filled with unwanted and stressful thoughts. Kids with OCD try to alleviate their anxiety by performing compulsive rituals like counting or washing their hands.

  • Specific phobias: When children have an excessive and irrational fearof particular things, like being afraid of animals or storms.

Some students anxiety may be so heightened that they suffer from School Refusal. Rachel Busman, PsyD, ABPP states, "School refusal, the extreme pattern of avoiding school, is distinguished from normal avoidance by a number of factors:

  • How long a child has been avoiding school

  • How much distress she associates with attending school

  • How strongly she resists

  • How much her resistance is interfering with her (and her family’s) life

Including all these aspects is important, because a child can still have school refusal even if they attend school most days. I’ve worked with kids who have missed only a day or two of school, but they’ve been tardy 30 times because their anxiety is so extreme it keeps them from getting to school on time. Kids with school refusal might also have a habit of leaving early, spending a lot of time visiting the nurse, or texting parents throughout the day."

Remember to document your observations by collecting data on attendance, how often and when your child expresses, or you notice, they are anxious, amount of time spent talking about going to and staying in school, missed assignment, grades, and the history of both, etc. Be ready to present this data to your child's teachers and school administrators when requesting an evaluation, or re-evaluation for an IEP or 504 Plan.

Here are a few articles you may find helpful:


While discussing the needs of students who have school related anxiety, we thought about Homebound Instruction;

"The purpose of homebound instruction is to keep students on track academically while the student is temporarily out of school. Homebound instruction is school-supplied one-to-one tutoring for a limited time. These students are counted in both the school membership* and school attendance**. See 22 Pa Code § 11.25(b)."

in addition,

"There are a number of educational options that sometimes are referred to as "homebound instruction" although they do not fit the legal definition of homebound instruction. The following are NOT categorized as "homebound instruction"

  • Instruction conducted in the home: for special education students for whom an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) team determines that the instruction of the student is to be conducted in the home; students are counted in both the school membership and school attendance; this is not homebound instruction."

School districts are charged with creating a Homebound Instruction policy that follows State and Federal guidelines. Find an example of such a policy here; the FCASD policy including required physician statement.


Next Meeting: November 17, 2021 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum.

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All meetings will be held virtually until further notice.

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