Washington schools choose counseling service for referrals
Families in the Washington Community School District (WCSD) will have another avenue for counseling services this year.
An agreement with Family Systems, a division of Systems Unlimited, will start this school year, said WCSD superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen. It would be primarily a referral service for families who may have a need to seek counseling outside of school.
“What this agreement means is that this is the organization that we will refer, but parents still have their own choices or options,” Jorgensen said. “This is just who we will make referrals to.”
The process of choosing a new counseling service began last spring, Jorgensen said.
“The building principals visited with three different mental health providers and they agreed upon this one,” Jorgensen said.
The district doesn’t pay for any of the services but, Jorgensen said, Family Systems Unlimited accepts most medical insurances and Title 9.
“It’s never a case where we require it,” he said. “All we can do is reprimand or suggest.”
The way the referral service will work, for example, is if a parent wants information about mental health or drug counseling, the district will give them Family System’s information, Jorgensen said. Also, if students break the good conduct policy and can get their suspension reduced by going through drug counseling, they will be referred to Family Systems.
Family Systems can assist children with overcoming social and emotional barriers to learning, said director of Family Services Janet Outlund. Family and couples therapy is also available.
The mental health counseling primarily takes place in their Iowa City and Cedar Rapids locations, Outlund said, but once a week there will be Spanish-speaking staff in Washington to provide therapy to families who primarily speak Spanish.
This is not uncommon for schools to use one company for a referral service for counseling services, Outlund said. Besides the WCSD, Family Systems also has the Iowa City Community and College Community school districts use its services.