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Step-by-Step Guidance for Providing Crisis-Level Supports to Students

There are times when students need more immediate support than a school’s current tiered system of supports can provide. This guidance is intended to walk you through the steps of setting up or refining the crisis component of an existing tiered system of supports and/or your Tiered Supports Crisis Team. 

Read Responding to Crisis Within a Tiered Supports System: How to Launch a School Crisis Plan for more information. 


STEP 1 – Assemble a school Tiered Supports Crisis Team. 

Suggested membership: 

  • School leadership (e.g., principal or assistant principal, dean of students) 
  • Student support staff (e.g., psychologist, social worker, school counselor, behavior technician) 
  • Parent coordinator or community liaison 
  • Instructional coach(es) 
  • Mental health agency representative (if part of the school community) 

STEP 2  Schedule a planning meeting(s) with school Tiered Supports Crisis Team members.  

Proposed agenda: 

  • Articulate the purpose of the team 
  • Determine and define roles and responsibilities of Tiered Supports Crisis Team members 
    • Facilitator/team lead 
    • Note taker  
    • Timekeeper 
  • Create norms  
    • Sample norms: Begin and end on time | Respect all opinions | Support all members | Active participation | Be open to change | Remain on topic | Maintain confidentiality | Highlight student/family strengths 
  • Determine who receives the referrals in addition to the student support staff (e.g., principal, assistant principal) 
  • Identify what constitutes a referral to the Tiered Supports Crisis Team  
  • Outline the crisis referral process/protocol 
  • Create a crisis referral form (includes space to create student support response plan) 
  • Determine what data, where possible, needs to be collected and shared at the Tiered Supports Crisis Team meeting  
  • Create a system or tool to track supports provided to student 
  • Determine how relevant information will be communicated to staff, students and families (see Caregiver Interview) 
  • Generate a list of available supports (e.g., school level, central office levelmental health partner) 
  • Create a plan to train staff on the Tiered Supports Crisis Plan process 

STEP 3  Create a Tiered Supports Crisis Plan document that includes all items from Step 2. 

STEP 4  Train staff on the Tiered Supports Crisis Plan process. 

STEP 5 – Generate a list of students who have been identified as needing immediate support.  

STEP 6  Student support staff (or whoever has capacity) follows up with the teachers of students who are on the list from Step 5. 

STEP 7 – Teachers complete referral forms for identified students. 

STEP 8 – Student support staff makes contact with the caregiver, either before or after the Tiered Supports Crisis Team meeting, depending on the concern (use the Caregiver Interview to support this outreach). 

STEP 9  Begin holding meetings, as needed. 

STEP 10  The Tiered Supports Crisis Team, student support staff and parent coordinator (if applicable) meet periodically to look for patterns and trends in the referral data to determine whether a broader approach to solving a problem is needed (e.g., to include food insecurity, homelessness). 

  • It is suggested that this data be reviewed no less than one time per grading/marking period