Families with children enrolled in Tucson Unified School District can get free counseling services during summer and beyond thanks to a partnership with the University of Arizona, College of Education Counseling Program.
Talk it Out kicked off in February at the Palo Verde Family Resource Center and has since become available at the Catalina, Southwest and Wakefield centers as well. (Palo Verde will be closed through July 31 for maintenance)
Counseling is available district-wide to any enrolled TUSD student and their family.
TUSD is Tucson's largest district and consists of 89 schools serving more than 45,000 students. Seventy-four of those schools receive Title 1 funding based on the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch. Additionally, 1,638 TUSD students have been identified as homeless.
Since many families in the district face economic stress, their access to mental health services is often limited in favor of immediate needs like shelter, food and clothing, says Terri Howard, program coordinator for TUSD's family resource centers.
With cuts to public education and public health services in Arizona, TUSD and the community have limited resources to provide mental health services to students and families in need, Howard says. For example, the national model is one counselor for every 250 students, while the counselor to student ratio in TUSD is one for every 500.
The district's family resource centers have received many requests for mental health and counseling services, Howard says. So, TUSD and the UA began working on a solution by offering Talk it Out.
"Mental health can have profound effects on students' academic performance, classrooms, the overall quality of life of individuals and families, and the community as a whole," Howard says. "Knowing that community resources are limited, and many students and families do not have the means to access the services that are available, we wanted to remove some of those barriers for our students and families."
Individuals and families seeking services will be seen by counselors from the UA College of Education Counseling Program.
The counselors are UA masters in counseling students, so having them in the role of counselor aids in their clinical training and allows the UA faculty to provide supervision and oversight to their work, says Amanda Tashjian, PhD and assistant professor of practice at the UA.
"We know that counseling services are needed in the community and yet our community struggles to receive the services they need," Tashjian says. "We feel that our impact is vast in that we are providing services free of any cost, but with the utmost oversight and supervision of our UA students. The overarching goal is to decrease the stigma and challenges associated with accessing counseling services and provide support to the TUSD community."
To see a counselor, call or drop in one of the district's family resource centers to have a request submitted. You can also walk in during the hours listed below and will be seen if a counselor is available.
Here's when summer sessions (June and July) are available:
Here's the 2019-20 school year schedule starting in August:
Wakefield Family Resource Center: Tuesdays, noon-8 p.m.
Southwest Family Resource Center: Wednesdays, noon-8 p.m.
Catalina Family Resource Center: Thursdays, noon-8 p.m.