What is SAP?

The Student Assistance Program (SAP) is a statewide initiative designed to provide support services for students who may be at risk or experience problems which pose a barrier to a student’s learning and school success.

Each school district forms a SAP Team of school staff who are trained to identify problems and make recommendations to assist the student and parent.

How does the SAP Team work?

A student can be referred to the SAP Team by school staff, parents, or other students when there is a concern about the student’s well being. After a student is referred, the team gathers information from the school staff about how the student is currently functioning and develops an intervention plan to help the student.

This may involve:

  • Having the team monitor the student’s progress

  • Having a team member be a mentor for the student

  • Inviting the student to be in a support group

  • Conducting a formal clinical assessment of the student’s needs or

  • Referring the student and/or parents to professional service providers

A Message to Parents

Parents who are experiencing problems with their children often accept more responsibility than is necessary. When this occurs, parents begin to feel overwhelmed in their responsibilities. They no longer feel effective in their parenting role and feel that their child is out of control.

Parent Responsibilities:

  • Set limits and be consistent

  • Establish and follow through on consequences

  • Know and be willing to recognized symptoms of chemical dependency or emotional distress

  • Be willing to seek outside help

Unhelpful Reactions

  • Overreact, scream or moralize

  • Patronize, excuse or condone the use of drugs or chemicals

  • Blame yourself or let your child blame you

  • Strike a deal – “if you quit…, I’ll give you…”

  • Accept the excuse that “They all do it.”

  • Make threats you don’t intend to carry out

Helpful Reactions

  • Confront your adolescent with facts about his/her behavior and how it affects others in the family

  • Be calm, try to empathize, show concern and a willingness to help

  • Try to get any additional information that clarifies the situation

  • Discuss the possible need for an evaluation with a professional

  • Allow your child to experience the consequences of his/her own behavior

  • Refer your child to the SAP Team.


Adolescence is a time of transition from childhood to adulthood. It is also a time when youth are exposed to increasing pressures and risks. Some moodiness and change in behavior are part of normal adolescent development. However, the following symptoms may be cause for concern:

  • Deterioration of family relationships

  • Change in sleeping or eating habits

  • Change in personal grooming and attire

  • Loss of interest in hobbies, sports and other favorite activities

  • Possessing drug paraphernalia

  • Poor school attendance

  • Talk or threat of suicide

  • Change of friends

  • Excessive demand for privacy

  • Declining school grades

  • Unusual fatigue or bursts of energy

  • Erratic mood, anger, defiance, resentment

  • Unexplained need for money

  • Giving away possessions

  • Unusual physical symptoms such as: red watery eyes, or sniffling

  • Reactions as a result of cultural or gender identity issues

Visit Pennsylvania Department of Education’s SAP Online Website