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Introducing the Ohio SAP Model

What is a SAP? (Student Assistance Program)

1-2 Ohio’s Model Student Assistance Program

As part of the Ohio School Wellness Initiative, Ohio’s Model Student Assistance Program was developed on a strong foundation of guiding principles to ensure that all services, supports, and processes are collaborative, equitable, sustainable, and systematic in nature.  A strong SAP ensures that everyone’s voice is heard and relies on partnerships among schools, community partners, students, and families.  Equally important is a solid focus on professional development and staff wellness, as we know that staff who are well themselves will be in a better position to support their students’ wellness.  


Ohio’s Model SAP aligns with the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports pyramid.  Universal (Tier 1) programming benefits all students, some of our students who are identified as at-risk benefit from Tier 2 programming, and those students who have been identified as having behavioral health and mental health challenges benefit from Tier 3 services.  The SAP includes education, prevention, early identification, evidence-based interventions, referral, guided support, and case management.

Best practice in the prevention and treatment of substance use, mental illness, and wellness includes utilizing a full continuum of care. SAPs provide a comprehensive, school-based framework designed to provide these services by preventing and supporting K-12 students experiencing non-academic barriers to learning. To be effective, services must be systematic, and coordinated in a way to ensure that students receive services in a timely manner while also considering developmental needs, culturally responsive practices, linguistically responsive practices, and students’ level of need. 

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SAP Principles Connected to the 3 Tiers of Support

What does SAP look like in schools?

  • The Student Assistance Team works to connect students to resources to remove barriers to learning. SAP does not provide treatment for students but can refer students to community resources for further assessment and treatment.

  •  Ohio’s SAP model provides a continuum of care, including (1) awareness, (2) prevention, (3) early identification, (4) evidence-based intervention, (5) referral processes, and (6) guided support services. 

  • When a concern arises and is referred to the Student Assistance Team, the team can begin identifying the concern. A team then collects and reviews objective student information as well as engages the caregiver(s) and student to learn more. With this information, the team develops a plan to remove learning barriers and utilize school-based and/or community-based resources. Team members follow up with the implemented plan and provide case management and monitoring.

Student Assistance Program LiveBinder Resources for Pilot Schools

Student Introduction to Student Assistance Programs (SAPs)

The Ohio Model SAP Manual outlines the Ohio SAP model, defines a Student Assistance Team, and offers SAP implementation guidance

See this page for Frequently Asked Questions and answers about SAPs, teams, and the continuum of services

The fidelity checklist outlines best practices for implementing the OSWI SAP and Staff Wellness model framework

See this page for resources and tools to support implementing your SAP

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