Dial Help increases services at Barkell

HANCOCK – Problem solving, coping strategies and informal risk assessments are among services the organization Dial Help will be increasing to provide to students of Barkell Elementary.

The School board approved a contract with the local crisis and treatment non-profit for extended hours from three hours, a week as part of a grant utilized by schools in the area, to 20 percent of the time. The organization will also remain on call if a situation arises.

“It’s not just sitting there waiting for something to happen we’re going to be proactive,” said superintendent Kipp Beaudoin.

The service will help children have a regular face they are familiar with and know to turn to and have a designated expert. While school counselors can and do provide social and emotional counseling and aid their main focus is educational counseling, said Beaudoin.

Dial Help provides limited services for area schools with three hours a week on campus paid for by grants and experts on call if a situation arises. Hancock is the first to contract additional hours on school grounds. The program is a pilot for Dial Help, said Dial Help Crisis Unit Manager Mike Gaunt.

“I’m just excited, because I think the younger we can…help kids the better,” he said. “It’s becoming pretty well known now that a lot of the issues that kids end up dealing with are trauma based or based on things they’ve gone through at a young age, so if we could help them at a young age we could help them get better much much faster and sometimes people just don’t know where to turn.”

The organization will not just respond to situations but provide preventative services teaching kids coping strategies, conducting informal risk assessments, offering safety planning and helping tap other community resources if needed.

Gaunt himself has a background in education and sees the partnership as a great opportunity for the students to have access to more services.

“I’m excited, I think it will do a lot of good things for kids,” he said.