• Social Support Services                                   

    • What social, emotional and behavioral supports do EL students sometimes require?
    • Can EL students access the same community health and mental health services as non-EL students? What are the barriers to access?
    • What community health and mental health services are available for EL students?
    • What support services are available for EL students from within City Schools? Who do I call if I have an EL student who needs counseling?

    What social, emotional and behavioral supports might EL students need?

    All students, regardless of language or nationality, require social, emotional and behavioral supports in order to be successful in school. English learners should receive supports that respect the student and families’ unique cultural background. About half of the English learners in Baltimore City were born in a country other than then United States; and as immigrants, these students are often exposed to a range of life experiences which place them at greater risk of needing additional supports.

    On the most basic level, immigrant students are often undergoing the cultural transition of acclimating and adapting to life in the United States. Moreover, these students have left their home countries due to a variety of factors, ranging from seeking greater economic opportunity, to escaping oppressive regimes, war or other unsafe conditions. Many students are thus exposed to various forms of trauma in their home countries, in addition to the experience of loss related to the separation from loved ones and their former home, as well as the risks to physical and mental health found during the sometimes difficult journey here. Once settled in Baltimore, many families find themselves strained as they adjust to a new family dynamic in which large extended families are now living under one roof, or children living in the home of family with whom they had limited previous connection.

    All of these factors contribute to the unique social, emotional and behavioral supports required by EL and immigrant students.

    Can EL students access the same community health and mental health services as non-EL students? What are the barriers to access?

    There are various factors that can affect whether an EL student can access health and mental health resources outside of the school. It is important to note that a person must have a social security number in order to receive Medical Assistance; undocumented immigrants are excluded from receiving health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Those students who have some form of legal status as citizens, refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protected status, guest workers, etc., should have access to Medical Assistance. Please see this chart indicating the various forms of benefit eligibility per immigration status.

    Therefore, if the school is attempting to help a student locate outside health or mental health services for EL students who have Medical Assistance or private health insurance, they should begin with those services offered under the student’s plan. Also note that many refugee/asylee families, when they first arrive to the United States, will receive support from a sponsor agency, who will assist them in applying for benefits. However, after a certain period of time the sponsor agency often terminates its management of these cases, and sometimes these eligible families need additional support with renewing enrollment in Medical Assistance or other benefits.

    To meet the needs of undocumented immigrants in Baltimore, some area hospitals and community organizations have created programs to provide health and mental health services, without requiring Medical Assistance or private insurance. See below for more information on helping your students access these services.

    Lastly, for many EL students, language can present an obstacle when accessing health or mental health services. If a school is assisting a student to locate health or mental health services outside of the school, please be sure to inquire if the hospital or organization can provide interpretation or services in the student’s home language.

    What community health and mental health services are available for EL students?

    As mentioned above, if the student is covered under Medical Assistance or private insurance, consult with their plans as you would for any other student – although now you must seek within these networks if there are services in the home language.

    If student does is not eligible for insurance or Medical Assistance, please see this resource guide for subsidized or sliding-scale health and mental health services. For those families living in the neighborhoods surrounding Johns Hopkins Hospital and Hopkins Bayview, a program exists called The Access Partnership (TAP), which provides subsidized primary and specialty care. Regardless of the type of service needed, in order to access TAP, families should be working with a Hopkins primary care physician. The TAP brochure is available for parents in both English and Spanish. Additionally the TAP eligibility form and flyer will provide valuable information for school staff when making referrals to this program.

    What support services are available for EL students from within City Schools? Who do I call if I have an EL student who needs counseling?

    As a first step, always refer to your school’s social worker, school psychologist, or school counselor. These staff may be able to address the need directly or refer the student to an appropriate resource. Many behavioral issues can be resolved through the school’s SST team as well.
    In addition, in response to the recent increase in the number of immigrant students into Baltimore City Public Schools, and with sensitivity to their unique needs and the gaps in community resources, Baltimore City Public Schools Office of Specialized Services has launched an initiative called The Newcomer Project, which includes two full-time, bilingual social workers. Newcomer Project staff are on-site at several schools across the district, carrying a caseload and providing regular counseling and/or case management for students at those schools.
    During the 2016-17 school year, the Newcomer Project is offering a a series of modules which all City Schools can select to support immgirant students.  This Menu of Services currently includes:
    1) Programs
    a) Teen Testimonios, a 14-week wupport group program to provide cognitive-behavioral interventions to trauma-exposed Latino immigrant students
    b) Families Reunite, a 6-hour workshop series for parents of immigrant students who have been separated from their children, to support the reunification process
    2) Professional Development
    a) Understanding Immigrant Student Needs
    b) How to Access Resources for Communication with LEP Families
    c) Culturally-competent and Trauma-informed Practices for the Classroom
    3) Consultation & Technical Assistance
    a) Immigrant Parent Engagement
    b) Trauma-informed classroom practices
    c) School climate regarding new immigrant students

    For more information about these resources, or to request a consultation regarding a specific student or concern at your school, please contact the Newcomer Project. Newcomer Project staff can provide case consultation including guidance on referrals, professional development, and other strategies that will increase the school’s capacity to provide support to EL students. Program staff can also provide short-term direct services in the event of a crisis or other urgent need that is beyond the capacity of the school. To reach a Newcomer Project staff member, contact eshaber@bcps.k12.md.us or cahaberman@bcps.k12.md.us. See this flyer with additional contact information.

    Additionally, as part of the Expanded School Mental Health (ESMH) Service program, Hope Health Systems’ UAM Project provides direct mental health services (individual therapy, group therapy, and family wrap-around services) to some City School students considered to be unaccompanied minors. An unaccompanied minor is a student who, while he/she may currently be living with a parent or relative, has come to the United States from a Central American country (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) without an adult family member to accompany him/her on the journey. See the attached flyer and referral form to see which schools are eligible to refer students to the UAM Project. To find out if an EL student is eligible for services through the UAM project, contact the UAM Family Navigator at omejia@hopehealthsystems.com.