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Student Assistance Program

The PA Department of Education Safe Schools Office, in collaboration with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the Department of Human Services Office of Mental Health, oversees the Student Assitance Program (SAP). SAP is designed to help school personnel identify issues, including alcohol and drugs, which pose a barrier to a student's learning and school success. SAP is not a treatment program; rather, it is a systematic process using effective and accountable professional techniques in order to mobilize school resources to remove the barriers to learning. When the problem is beyond the scope of the school, SAP assists the parent and the student with information so that they may access services in the community.

SAP does not diagnose or treat. SAP does identify, support, and refer for further assessment.

SAP Team members receive training approved by PDE, DDAP and DHS, and connect with other districts and county providers via monthly meetings. 


Any concerns regarding at-risk behavior or a worrisome change in a student's behavior are examples of an appropriate referral to the SAP team. Referrals from teachers, parents, neighbors, social workers, counselors, administrators, the nurse, and even students themselves. Referrals can be kept anonymous at the referring person's request.

Make a Referral

Once a referral is made, the team reviews the referral. If deemed appropriate, a team member contacts the student to discuss the referral. With student's awareness and input, parents are contacted. Information is gathered to determine the extent of the problem. Then, with input from all concerned parties, a decision is made regarding an appropriate course of action.

Options can include:

  • arrangements for a student to have regular contact with a trusted adult,
  • referral to a school-based support group,
  • referral to a Community Resource, and/or referral for a Drug and Alcohol or Mental Health Assessment. (An assessment is an interview conducted by a qualified D/A or M/H worker who assesses the extent of the problem and makes a recommendation)

Parents have the right to decide whether their child is to be involved in the SAP process and are considered part of the SAP team when their child is involved in the SAP process.

For more information about Student Assistance Services in the Commonwealth of PA, please visit: