YES Prep has expanded its partnership with Legacy Community Health, an organization that provides behavioral and clinical health services to students. Now, eight campuses provide behavioral health clinic and five offer clinical health. With the expansion of the program has come an increase in students and families taking advantage of the services. “Given the complexity and the number of cases that come up for Student Support Counselors (SSCs), we are limited in the time that we can support students. With Legacy, students with complex cases around trauma, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, and family conflict can receive full wraparound services,” said Kawana Coulon, Manager of YES Prep’s Student Support Counseling Program.
On the physical health side, many families sign up for services at orientations and parent nights so their students can be seen at any time by a Legacy nurse. “It goes a long way to keeping students in school,” Coulon said. “If a family does not have to tend to a health need outside of school or if there’s an insurance barrier, they’re able to see a qualified health provider on campus.” Coulon also emphasized that Legacy takes an educational approach instead of coming up with a short term solution. “It’s not uncommon for the nurse practitioner to contact the family to create a health plan or establish health goals for issues such as obesity or asthma,” said Coulon.
Juan Sazo works as an SSC at YES Prep’s North Forest campus, an area of Houston that has fewer community agencies and mental health services. “When we had kids with suicidal ideation or serious trauma, we’d have to send them to Kingwood or downtown, a 20-25 minute drive,” he said. “Legacy is on campus, which makes the referral process faster and the student is able to take the tools they learn through the sessions back to the classroom.” Sazo stated that many parents signed up for the new physical health clinic on campus as well. “Because these services are provided on campus, parents are more likely to trust them and take advantage of the opportunities,” he said.
Additionally, the expansion of the program has afforded Legacy and YES Prep the opportunity to educate campus SSCs, Deans of Students, and Directors of Student Support. “The partnership is helping us understand how we can educate support staff to meet the needs of students that Legacy is seeing in individual sessions,” said Coulon. YES Prep’s goal is for the clinics to be available at every campus and to extend the amount of time practitioners are on campus. Coulon also hopes to expand the educational opportunities for teachers, since they are often the first-responders to student behavioral health concerns.
“We recognize the importance of meeting the holistic needs of students. Quality of health and wellness is essential to a student being present, active and engaged in the learning process,” said Coulon. “The Legacy/YES Prep partnership allows us to reduce barriers to students being successful academically through the provision of behavioral and health services.”