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  • Tuesday, December 23, 2014 7:12 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    Youth use of alcohol and illicit drugs are steadily declining, but e-cigarette use is high and the perception that marijuana is harmful is low, according to the 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey, released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Read more 

  • Tuesday, December 23, 2014 7:06 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    Posted from the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance News Brief dated December 19, 2014


    PFSA provides accurate, up-to-date resources for mandated reporters of child abuse in Pennsylvania. Here's some information you can use today to make sure you understand your responsibilities under the new amendments to the Child Protective Services Law:

    Act 31 of 2014 amended § 6383(c) of the Child Protective Services Law to require certain persons to receive child abuse recognition and reporting training as a condition of licensure, approval or registration: 
    • Operators of institutions, facilities or agencies which care for children and are subject to supervision by the Department of Human Services (Department) under Article IX or Article X of the Public Welfare Code, and their employees who have direct contact with children;
    • Foster parents;
    • Caregivers in Family Day Care homes which are subject to registration by the Department under Subarticle (c) of the Public Welfare Code and their employees who have direct contact with children.

    Effective December 31, 2104, new employees and new foster parents are required to receive 3 hours of training within 90 days of hire or approval and 3 hours of training every five years thereafter.

    Effective December 31, 2014, prospective operators of child-serving institutions, facilities or agencies or family day care homes must receive 3 hours of training prior to the issuance of a license, approval or registration certificate and 3 hours of training every five years thereafter.

    Beginning July 1, 2015, the following must receive 3 hours of training prior to the re-issuance of a license, approval or registration certificate and 3 hours of training every five years thereafter:
    • Current operators;
    • Current employees having direct contact with children;
    • Current caregivers and employees in family day care homes; and
    • Current foster parents.

    The curriculum for the child abuse recognition and reporting training must be approved by the Department and must address, but not be limited to, the following:
    • Recognition of the signs of abuse;
    • Reporting requirement for suspected abuse in the commonwealth and
    • For institutions, facilities and agencies their policies related to reporting of suspected child abuse.

    All of PFSA's mandated reporter trainings meet the requirements of all of the licensing entities in Pennsylvania.

    Persons may be exempted from the Act 31 training requirements if all of the following apply:
    • The person provides documentation that they have already completed child abuse recognition and reporting training;
    • The training was:
    o Required under § 1205.6 of the Public School Code or required these trainings were approved by the Department; or
    o Required under the Child Protective Services Law and the training was approved by the Department; and
    o The amount of the training received equals or exceeds the amount of training required above.

    To read Act 31 in its entirety click here; for PFSA’s training options, click here.


    Changes to Child Abuse/Criminal History Requirements

    On December 31, 2014 Pennsylvania will usher in not only a new year, but new requirements regarding child abuse and criminal history clearances. These individuals will need to obtain new child abuse, state criminal and federal criminal history clearances every thirty-six months:
    • An employee of child-care services.
    • A foster parent; a prospective adoptive parent.
    • A self-employed family day-care provider.
    • An individual 14 years of age or older applying for a paid position as an employee responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children.
    • Any individual seeking to provide child-care services under contract with a child-care facility or program.
    • An individual 18 years of age or older who resides in the home of a foster parent for at least 30 days in a calendar year or who resides in the home of a prospective adoptive parent for at least 30 days in a calendar year.
    • School employees not governed by the provisions of the public school code of 1949 shall be governed by this section.

    Childcare services include child day-care centers, group day-care homes, family day-care homes, foster homes, adoptive parents, boarding homes for children, juvenile detention centers or programs for delinquent or dependent children, mental health services for children, programs for children with intellectual disabilities, early intervention services for children, drug and alcohol services for children and day-care services or programs that are offered by a school. Any child care services provided by or under contract with the Department of Human Services or county children and youth agency would also fall under this requirement. Additionally, the new requirement extends to any children care services that are subject to approval, licensure or registration or certification by the Department of Human Services.

    Beginning July 1, 2015, volunteers having contact with or responsibility for children will be required to submit a child abuse and state criminal history clearance prior to approval as a volunteer and every 36 months after. Federal history clearances are not required provided all of the following conditions are met:
    • The position is unpaid.
    • The individual has been a PA resident for the past 10 years.
    • The individual swears or affirms in writing that he has not been convicted of any of the crimes or equivalent crimes in any other jurisdiction listed under section 6344 (c) of the Child Protective Services Law.

    Effective December 31, 2014, the Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance application can be submitted online.  Once you enter the link below (DHS website) you will be directed to the Child Welfare Portal where you must create an account or log in if you already have an account. You will need an email address to create an account. Creating an account and submitting your clearance application online will give you immediate access to your results or the status of your results if your results cannot be processed immediately. Paper submission of requests wiil still be accepted.

    For details on how to request a child abuse history clearance electronically, the mailing address for paper submissions, and other information click here.


  • Monday, December 08, 2014 3:51 PM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)


    Please feel free to circulate 12.4.14

    Please make note of

    Our NEW Address:

    Prevention-Education & SAP Services
    Addiction Medicine Services of Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic
    University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
    Franklin Building, Floor 4
    1011 Bingham Street
    Pittsburgh, PA 15203

    Susan L. Tarasevich, Ed.D.

    David Suda, M.Ed.


    Pat S. Woodke



    FAX: 412.235.5362

    To register for SAP Training

    Visit: www.upmc.com/sap

    Trending – E-Cigarettes, Vaping & Hookah Pens: Not Just Nicotine Anymore

    The word “vape” was recognized as the word of the year by the Oxford dictionary, and defined as the act of inhaling or exhaling vapor from an electronic cigarette, vape, or Hookah pen.

    Though originally developed in the 1960’s, tobacco marketers are inaccurately promoting the electronic cigarette as a nicotine delivery system without the pulmonary risks and dangers of cigarettes. While the risk of addiction and other issues for adolescents is real, the increasing popularity of these devices has created a fad with youth.

    In its basic form, the e-cigarette consists of a battery, a heating element, and a simple switch. Some offer a puff- activated switch with a small light that closely mimics the look and feel of a traditional cigarette (Figure 1).



    2015 Site


    Pittsburgh 3190 William Pitt Highway Pittsburgh, PA 15238

    Time: 8:15 am - 3:30 pm
    *code required for admittance

    January 13-15
    February 17-19
    March 17-19
    May 12-13

    $350* per participant

    (This is a Three Day Training)

    Training manual
    All materials
    Continental Breakfast
    Act 48 Credits
    Specialty credits available at a nominal fee

    How it Works

    The e-cigarette uses a cartridge containing nicotine mixed with glycerin that when heated makes a vapor. As all things evolve, the newest generation of “E-Cigarettes” is electronically the same, but all the components are now larger. Most importantly, the name of the device has changed. Today, the term “Vape Pen” replaces the term “e-cigarette”. The first generation (far left), originally designed to resemble a traditional tobacco cigarette, is marketed as a safe alternative to smoking.

    The Next Generation

    The second generation (Figure 2) is electronically similar, but physically larger. This second generation Vape Pen no longer physically resembles the first, and most importantly, tobacco companies stress that the user is no longer “smoking” but “vaping” since they were now using a Vape pen. The term “vaping” describes the vaporization of nicotine mixed with glycerin (vegetable oil) that is often flavored with fruity compounds. “Hookah” Pen refers to a Middle Eastern type of “Vape” Pen. The Vape Pen and Hookah Pen refer to the same device.

    There is a “new” world of users that personalize their Vape Pens, and the changes are not just cosmetic as reported by police and in online “vape forums”. Manufacturers have responded (most pens are made in China) by offering a variety of sizes, reservoirs to accept liquids, varying wicks, and longer-life batteries. The real problem with Vape Pens is that the concentration of nicotine varies from pen to pen. Users have no indication of the amount of nicotine that they are inhaling.

    Marijuana, Crack & Meth Delivery

    Users are able to modify the Vape pens to deliver drugs. THC the psychoactive chemical in marijuana has been reformulated and distilled for the Vape Pen, and is called “Dab” (Figure 3).

    The waxy substance contains butane hash oil. Butane, gas, an explosive is used to extract THC, pot's active ingredient, during the process. A hit the size of a head of a pin is equal to one to two full cannabis joints.

    Street-grade cannabis has about a 5-to 17% concentration of THC. When distilled using butane, the THC concentration of the “DAB” is around 30%. Originating from the slogan, “just a Dab will do ya”, the “Dab” is reported to create a much more intense high than that achieved from traditionally smoked marijuana. Some sites estimate that a “Dab” may contain 70%-90% THC. As the Vape Pen becomes more popular and widely accepted, proponents of marijuana legalization see “Dabbing with a Vape Pen” as being the accepted way to enjoy marijuana, similar to how vaping itself replaced smoking. Other traditionally abused drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine and crack can be used in the Vape Pen.

    Vape Pens are multi-colored and come in wide variety of sizes, and capacities. Most have rechargeable batteries, with more powerful heating elements, and user accessible reservoirs. The vape pen allows the user to experiment with specialty flavored glycerin liquids sometimes called “E-Juices”. E-Juices have become the focus and popularity of the Vape pen, coming in a wide variety of flavors and tastes. These included the most basic flavors, cherry, grape, blueberry, orange, strawberry, and lemon, clearly targeted to children. Some flavors resemble common foods or breakfast cereals like Captain Crunch or Fruity Pebbles.

    Figure 3. Courtesy of www.drugpossessionlaws.com,2014


    Top Three Prevention TIPS for SAP’s

    1. Educate Teens about Health Effects

    First, the dose of nicotine delivered with each puff may fluctuate widely between manufacturers. The FDA found nicotine in products labeled as nicotine free. Multiple studies indicate that nicotine is known to be addictive, toxic to fetuses and harmful to adolescent brain development. Nicotine addiction is powerful and happens quickly.

    Second, electronic cigarettes deliver an array of toxic chemicals, including diethylene glycol (a highly toxic substance found in antifreeze), various nitrosamines (powerful carcinogens found in tobacco), and at least four other chemicals suspected of being harmful to humans. While the amount of these substances is smaller than found in “real” cigarette smoke, it is not zero. For this reason, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about their use.

    Third, there are no scientific studies of e-cigarettes. There is no evidence that they are a safe way to quit smoking. There are better and safer ways to quit. The most effective strategy involves using an FDA approved nicotine replacement or a medication along with some sort of counseling or support, in person, either by telephone, or even by text message. Teens and adults can receive counseling and support from the free PA Quitline 1.800. QUIT NOW.

    Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669)

    2. Update School Tobacco Policies to Include e-cigarettes including current and future tobacco products

    Provide a definition of tobacco products to include current and future tobacco products.

    Prohibit the following items on campus (inside or outside) and at off-campus, school-sponsored events by anyone

    • tobacco products and tobacco-related devices,
    • imitation tobacco products,
    • lighters, and
    • electronic cigarettes.

    Prohibit accepting any donations or curriculum from any tobacco-related industry.

    Prohibit any promotion of tobacco products.

    3. Refer ALL Tobacco Policy Violators to SAP

    There is a strong relationship between youth smoking and negative affect, such as depression, anxiety, and stress, and lower rates of academic achievement among smokers. The relationship between depression and smoking among adolescents is bidirectional. Depressed teens are more likely to smoke, and those who smoke are more likely to become depressed (Brown, 1996). Smokers have lower grade point averages (GPA) than nonsmokers do. The Harvard College Alcohol Study found that smokers are 27.0% less likely than nonsmokers to have an above B grade average (Rigotti, 2000). Daily smokers were found to have even lower GPAs than high-risk drinkers did. This sounds like a powerful opportunity for SAP to intervene.

    Your 30-Second Sound Byte on E-Cigarettes

    1. E-cigarettes are tobacco products.

    2. No one knows what is in e-cigarettes or what the health impacts may be.

    3. According to CDC, youth use of e- cigarettes has doubled in 1 year.

    4. FDA has not found any e-cig to be safe & effective in helping smokers quit.

    5. Initial studies have shown formaldehyde, benzene & other items in secondhand e-cigarette emissions

    6. That is why it is so important for FDA to begin its oversight.


  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014 3:34 PM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    It’s that time of the year again – the PAYSPI Annual PSA Contest for Youth Suicide Prevention! This year we are anticipating a record number of entries, but we need your help getting the word out to local high schools. Everything students and schools need to know about the contest can be found at the main contest page: www.payspi.org/psa/2015psa<http://www.payspi.org/psa/2015psa>. I’ve also attached a flyer, application form, rules, and letter to schools. All of these attachments are also on the website. Please distribute as widely as possible. All submissions are due January 16, 2015!

    Good luck!

    Matthew B. Wintersteen, PhD
    Co-Chair, Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative

    215-503-2824 (phone)
    215-503-2852 (fax)



  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014 3:05 PM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    Cultivating Empathy for Healthy Relationships and Collaborative Classrooms

    This training opportunity will challenge you to examine your own empathy skills and offer several practical and engaging activities and discussions you can have with your students to help develop empathy and perspective-taking and to cultivate an atmosphere characterized by kindness, respect and collaboration. Event dates:

    Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015
    Wednesday, March 18, 2015

    The trainings are 9AM-4PM at the Center for Schools and Communities in Camp Hill, Pa. Cost is $129 per person; lunch on your own. Pre-registration required.

    Register Online
    Full course description
    Download the flyer

    This training has been aligned with PA Core Standards, Academic Standards for Career Education and Work and Standards for Student Interpersonal Skills.

    Mindset, Grit and Optimism: Promoting Skills that Lead to Academic Tenacity

    Research shows us that non-cognitive factors such as mindset, students' beliefs about their intelligence and abilities, their habits of self-control and their reactions to everyday setbacks can have a far greater impact than IQ on both academic and long-term success. Come learn relatively simple educational and psychological interventions that target these factors and can transform students' experiences and achievements in school and in life.
    Event date:

    Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015

    The training is 9AM-4PM at the Center for Schools and Communities in Camp Hill, Pa. Cost is $129 per person; lunch on your own. Pre-registration required.

    Register Online
    Full course description
    Download the flyer


  • Sunday, October 12, 2014 7:21 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    The House Education Committee approved the following items:

    Parent Penalties for Truancy -- House Bill 2356 (Rep. Gillen, R-Berks) amends provisions in the School Code regarding truancy by removing required fines and jail time for parents of truant students. Under the bill, a parent must intentionally fail to comply with compulsory attendance requirements in order to warrant a summary conviction. The bill adds community service as an alternative to the current requirement to complete a parenting education program. The committee approved an amendment that reinstates imprisonment as an optional penalty for truancy. Last week PSBA presented testimony to the House Education Committee on House Bill 2356, suggesting that there are a number of legislative changes that would be very helpful in addressing clarity and flexibility with truancy enforcement issues.

    Statewide Truancy Study -- House Resolution 1032 (Rep. Benninghoff, R-Centre) directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to examine truancy across the Commonwealth.  The resolution was amended to add representatives of county children and youth agencies and juvenile justice agencies to the committee; and clarifies language related to charter and cyber charter schools.

  • Monday, September 15, 2014 8:39 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    On Monday, 9/15/14, the PA General Assembly is returning to Harrisburg for the remaining days in the two year Legislative Session.
    Also on Monday, Senate Bill 1164 is scheduled for a vote of final passage in the PA House of Representatives.  Senate Bill 1164 includes Good Samaritan provisions for those seeking help for people who have overdosed.  It also provides access to Narcan for first responders and families.

    If the bill is passed by the PA House, it will return to the PA Senate for a vote of concurrence on House amendments, including the amendments providing access to Narcan for first responders and families.


  • Monday, September 15, 2014 8:34 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    Police, Safety Groups to Offer Safety Seat Checkpoints Statewide

    Harrisburg – State Police and PennDOT are encouraging motorists to participate in free child passenger safety seat checkups throughout Pennsylvania as the agencies mark National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 14 – 20. Additionally, Saturday, Sept. 20, has been designated as “National Seat Check Saturday.”

    “I urge all parents and caregivers to not only get their seats checked, but also to explore all educational materials available to them,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “PennDOT, police departments and safety partners across the state are available year-round to ensure children are legally and correctly restrained.” 

    PennDOT funds resources such as training and educational materials for 145 fitting stations across Pennsylvania, at which more than 5,000 car seats were checked last year. The checkups are designed to teach drivers the proper installation and use of child safety seats.

    Another PennDOT-funded resource is “Sit Back – It’s Elementary,” a new elementary school curriculum focused on reducing traffic-related injuries and deaths. Through the in-school program, trained police officers and safety partners educate children on making proper seat-belt use and positioning a habit.

    “Child car seats and booster seats save lives, but only when they are installed and used properly,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan.  “The inspections conducted by our troopers typically find that a high percentage of these seats are not installed correctly -- in many cases, the child’s seat was not securely anchored,” Noonan said.  “Anchoring the child seat properly to the vehicle is critical to its performance in a crash.”

    Pennsylvania law requires that children under the age of 4 ride in a federally-approved car seat that is appropriate for the child's age, height and weight. Children between the ages of 4 and 8 must use a booster seat if they are no longer in a car seat.

    The state’s seat belt law mandates that children ages 8 to 17 must use a seat belt, and violating this law is a primary offense. It is a secondary offense for drivers and front seat passengers age 18 and older to travel unbuckled.

    Because of the potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, children ages 12 and under should always ride in a vehicle’s back seat.

    The State Police Bureau of Patrol also offered the following tips:

    • Read and follow the car seat and vehicle manufacturers’ instructions;
    • Use the car’s seat belt to anchor the seat to the car unless you are using a child safety seat with the LATCH system;
    • Fill out and return the registration card for your seat so you'll know if it is recalled because of a problem;
    • Make sure the seat’s harness fits snugly; and
    • Use a tether strap if the seat requires it.

    For more information on car seat safety and to get a list of state police car seat safety inspection locations and dates, click on the "Public Safety" link at www.psp.state.pa.us.

    To view a list of PennDOT-supported car seat checks and see how PennDOT promotes child passenger safety, visit www.JustDrivePA.com, then "Traffic Safety Information Center" and "Child Passenger Safety."

    Media contacts:
    Ashley Schoch, PennDOT, 717-783-8800
    Adam Reed, Pennsylvania State Police, 717-783-5556

  • Wednesday, September 03, 2014 7:31 AM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    Informing Everyone About Your School’s SAP Team

    “Mar-ket-ing noun \ˈmär-kə-tiŋ\:  the activities that are involved in making people aware of a company’s products, making sure that the products are available to be bought, etc...the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service” (Webster, n.d.).

    Marketing is an essential element to an effective Student Assistance Program (SAP) team’s functioning as they work to promote the positive results that can stem from the SAP process.  Why is it an essential component?  A well-functioning team needs to share information and understanding about the purpose of the SAP process with stakeholders, including parents, students, educators, staff, and the community.

    From the parent aspect, parents need to be partners in the SAP process working with the school’s SAP team to support the student once an issue has been identified.  Parents also need to know that the SAP team is a viable option for support and assistance at the school and be familiar and comfortable with team members in order to establish a level of trust and comfort to work effectively with the team. Marketing the SAP team to parents can include creating an inviting, easy to access web page connected to the school website, possibly containing a team member’s email address to easily communicate concerns to the team member; a mini presentation by team members at a school’s open house night with an informational brochure for parents to keep on the refrigerator should need arise throughout the year; and team members attending school functions to become easily recognized and reachable by parents.

    Students on the other hand need to know they are not alone and when they need assistance or know of a friend or classmate that may need assistance; they know who they can reach out to in the school.  Marketing the SAP process to students may take the form of having an original SAP logo created and displayed outside each team member’s door to alert students to those educators who are trained to provide support through the SAP process; including a SAP presentation at the beginning of the year to inform students of who and what the SAP team is; and utilizing and advertising the ways that student SAP referral can be made in the school, through a frequently visited mailbox located in the school or easy access email monitored by a SAP team member.

    While marketing the SAP process to parents and students is important, educating all school educators and staff is also essential.  Marketing the process includes in-servicing teachers and staff on the SAP process, the SAP team members, and how to make referrals; defining the process and access to forms for ease in referring students in need; and providing opportunities for all staff members to be trained in the SAP process, as funding allows, to demonstrate the importance and overall process of the program.

    Finally, marketing the SAP process to the community through presentation, brochures, and websites can help to build community support for the overall health and well-being of all stakeholders in creating environments and situations that are beneficial to the safety, health, welfare, and education of all children. What ideas do you have for marketing your SAP team?  What’s been most successful?  Contact your SAP Regional Coordinator if you have SAP marketing success stories to share.  Maybe your SAP team can host the refreshment stand at the next parent/teacher night or home football game!
    Marketing. (n.d.).

    Retrieved August 22, 2014, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marketing

    This article is taken from September 2014 SAP County Coordination Update - Prepared by PA Network for Student Assistance Services (PNSAS) 

    Download the entire September 2014 SAP County Coordination Update

  • Thursday, August 28, 2014 3:43 PM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

    The Center for Safe Schools is pleased to announce the availability of Safe Dates Implementation Training for Pennsylvania educators and community partners. The training will be held on November 5, 2014 at the Center for Safe Schools, 275 Grandview Avenue, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 17011. 

    Safe Dates is an evidence-based program for preventing dating abuse among adolescents. It consists of the following five components:

    1. A ten-session dating abuse curriculum
    2. A play about dating abuse
    3. A poster contest
    4. Parent materials, including a letter, newsletter, and the Families for Safe Dates program
    5. An evaluation questionnaire

    Safe Dates can be used as a dating abuse prevention tool for both male and female middle- and high-school students. Safe Dates would fit well within a health education, family life skills, or general life skills curriculum.

    This one-day event is being offered for those individuals who wish to support their schools in the implementation of the Safe Dates Curriculum. A school counselor can offer Safe Dates as part of a support group or counseling/education program or it can be used in after school, community youth enrichment, and faith-based youth programs. Safe Dates can also be used as an intervention tool at domestic abuse or crisis centers, in juvenile diversion programs, and with victim support groups.

    There is a $129.00 registration fee for Pennsylvania educators and community partners. Out-of-state participants or those who will not be implementing Safe Dates in a school will be charged a $350.00 registration fee. Each participant will receive a copy of the Safe Dates Curriculum and supportive materials, as well as lunch at no extra charge.

    For additional information and to register please click on this link: http://www.safeschools.info/professional-development/2014-safe-dates-implementation-training.

Pennsylvania Association of Student Assistance Professionals
PO Box 1254
State College, Pennsylvania 16804 

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