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Texans Can Academies Offer their Students Counseling Services

Texans Can Academies Offer their Students Counseling Services

July 26, 2018

Texans Can Academies hope to help their students facing depression, high stress and other issues by providing a 24/7 confidential counseling hotline and access to free off-campus counseling appointments.

The new program began May 1 for the network of 13 charter schools in Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio. Their three area campuses are located in southwest Houston at 9745 Bissonnet, in north Houston at 3401 Hardy, and by Hobby Airport at 9020 Gulf Freeway.

Chief of Schools James Ponce said even prior to the new program, the 13 schools had worked in their own ways to assist students with their personal and mental health problems.

“We were offering social services, counseling, paying for health services and more on a campus-by-campus basis. We didn’t have a district-wide system to offer mental health services to all of our students at all of our schools,” Ponce said. “We already were addressing the need for mental health services to our kids, but not on a 24-hour basis and not to the same level at each campus.”

Ponce enlisted the help of Paul Fleming, president of Student Assistance Programs & Training Services (SAP / TS), LLC, who then designed the pilot program for the high school students. Fleming said the business is modeled after his experience with employee assistance programs, which allow working adults the ability to make a make a phone call anytime to talk through their issues and also schedule appointments with counselors.

Students will be able to call the Texans Can Academy hotline when they are in need of someone to listen or help them work through their issues, Fleming said.

“The hotline, really a crisis intervention service, immediately connects a troubled student with an experienced clinician (psychologist or master’s level therapist) to talk through their problem, provide comfort and direction and motivate them to accept counseling through the program,” he said.

Fleming said a big part of the new program is the off-campus counseling appointments students in need will receive. The students can have three appointments for each problem in their lives, and Fleming said family members can be included in the counseling if family relationships are part of the issue.

Ponce said Texans Can Academies recognized the need to help their students cope with life’s problems, especially those at their Houston campuses following last year’s hurricane, so that they focus on their education.

“We know that many of our students live very stressful lives,” Ponce said. “We had a lot of students at our three Houston campuses greatly affected by Hurricane Harvey last year and saw how that trauma affected them. We are about removing barriers to education and have always viewed this as one we needed to act on.”

According to Ponce, the program will cost Texans Can Academies $1.13 a month per student. He said the cost will be worth it to see the success of the students, many of whom would not be able to afford the services otherwise.

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