Student Assistance Program (SAP)

The Student Assistance Program (SAP) provides mental health and therapy support to the City of Pembroke Pines Charter Schools. SAP was modeled after the Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS) approach utilized in schools to maximize student access to behavior and academic support. At the universal level (Tier 1), SAP attempts to provide general mental health support by providing training and support to school personnel as well as facilitating parent talks on various mental health topics. At Tier 2, the targeted level, SAP provides in-class consultative support for teachers working with select students that have been identified with a need. Lastly, at Tier 3, the intensive level, SAP can provide individual therapy to students identified with a need and referred to the program by school personnel.  For more information on SAP services or to inquire about the referral process for individual therapy, please reach out to your school counselor.

SAP Tip of the Month


Research demonstrates that practicing gratitude daily can improve resiliency and overall well-being (e.g., Wislon, 2016). A simple way to practice gratitude with your family is to schedule a regular time, perhaps during mealtime or car rides, in which both children and caregivers partake. During this time, take turns reflecting on something that happened that day, no matter how small. Explain why you are grateful for the event or occurrence. The key to benefiting from this practice is to do it consistently and genuinely reflect on sources of gratitude.  

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Spending quality time with your child will not only improve your relationship with them but can also improve their behavior and self-esteem. Research shows that just five to ten minutes a day is enough time. The key to making it quality time is to participate in an interactive activity and engage in the child’s preferred activity (perhaps coloring or throwing a ball). During this time, caregivers should actually avoid asking too many questions or giving commands. Instead, follow your child’s lead, reflect and summarize what they share with you, and praise anything positive you observe (e.g., “I really like how focused you are now” or “Thanks for sharing that with me”).   


Active listening is an important skill that can enhance communication between parents and children. Reflecting (or summarizing back the message you understood) when your child shares something can be more powerful than asking questions. For instance, if your child shares something that occurred during their school day, a good reflection might start by stating, “I hear you saying that…” This may encourage your child to share more as they will feel heard and understood. 


Research shows that excessive social media use negatively impacts mental health.  for instance, in one study, as daily social media usage increased throughout the day, participants would rate themselves lower on a self-esteem measure (Jan et al.,2017).  One strategy to help youth reduce social media use is to agree on set times during the day in which social media use is not allowed such as mealtime and bedtime.


Label praise your child’s good behaviors instead of only redirecting bad behaviors. As children try to adapt to changes in their routine, they may exhibit an increase in misbehaviors. For instance, some children might have difficulty following directions or paying attention. This usually causes caregivers to increase the negative interactions they have with children, often telling them “no” or “stop.” These redirections may temporarily thwart misbehavior but do not necessarily change behavior over time. Instead, look for the instances that children are exhibiting the right behaviors. Label praise them by telling them exactly what you like about their behavior. This will increase the likelihood that children will demonstrate these good behaviors more often over time. Examples of labeled praises might include telling a child, “Good job paying attention,” or “thank you for listening.”


A shift from punishing your child to allowing them to earn privileges. When misbehavior increases, parents often resort to frequent punishment of their children by removing privileges, such as loss of video game access. However, research shows that punishment is not always effective in leading to long-term behavioral change. Instead of taking away a privilege each time your child misbehaves, encourage children to earn daily privileges by meeting two or three positively worded expectations. For instance, each day your child completes an agreed-upon household chore and finishes their homework, they can earn access to 20 minutes of tablet use or watch the desired show on TV. If the child fails to meet the expectations for the day, they cannot access the privilege. They can, however, change their behavior to earn the privilege the following day. This shifts privileges from being guaranteed to being contingent on child behaviors.