The Pennsylvania Student Assistance Program (SAP) is a systematic team process used to mobilize school resources to remove barriers to learning. SAP is designed to assist in identifying issues including alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and mental health issues which pose a barrier to a student’s success. The primary goal of the Student Assistance Program is to help students overcome these barriers so that they may achieve, advance, and remain in school. While Student Assistance Programs exist in other areas of the country, the structure and operation of the program in Pennsylvania is a unique expression of an integrated model serving the needs of Pennsylvania families and students.
The core of the Student Assistance Program is a professionally trained team, including school staff and liaisons from community drug and alcohol and mental health agencies. SAP team members are trained to identify issues, determine whether or not the presenting issue lies within the responsibility of the school, and to make recommendations to assist the student and the parent. When the issue lies beyond the scope of the school, the SAP team will assist the parent and student so they may access services within the community. SAP team members do not diagnose, treat or refer to treatment; but they may refer a student to a liaison who may screen or assess for further community based services and support.