This past August, the Michigan State University Office of Student Support and Accountability introduced the Care and Intervention Team. Prioritizing student safety, this new initiative uses a collaborative and proactive approach to identifying, preventing, assessing, intervening and reducing threats to the safety and well-being of the MSU community.
Consisting of university personnel from a variety of units with expertise in student affairs, mental and physical health, student conduct, human resources, and law enforcement/campus safety, the Care and Intervention Team helps to ensure a safe, supportive physical and emotional environment at the university.
Goals for the team include:
- Provide a safe and supportive physical and emotional environment for members of the university community.
- Identify, assess and intervene with individuals who are struggling or who demonstrate concerning or threatening behavior.
- Provide support and resources to community members who are concerned for another individual.
“We are incredibly excited to launch the reimagined Care and Intervention Team. As an interdisciplinary team, this team will be able to support our community in new ways,” said Mackenzie Fritz, director for the Office of Student Support and Accountability. “We will lead with care to help those who are struggling, while also addressing potential safety concerns.”
A Revised Approach
The new Care and Intervention Team is a revised approach that combines three priorly existing teams: the Behavioral Threat Assessment Team (BTAT) for students, the Behavioral Threat Assessment Team for employees and the Behavioral Intervention Team. Having had similar goals and intentions, the BTAT would meet to assess the likelihood of risk and identify actions to be taken to potentially mitigate the risk. BTAT also worked to help faculty, staff and administrators effectively interact with such individuals, establish behavioral expectations and describe the potential consequences for failure to meet those expectations within the context of established university policies.
The process of coordinating responses and, most importantly, intervention, should produce more efficient and direct ways to support the community.
The Care and Intervention Team meets weekly to discuss the individuals for whom a case manager has already conducted intake, etc. Non-clinical case managers in OSSA support the Care and Intervention Team. The Care and Intervention Team is the larger group that comes together to discuss individuals to determine interventions. Yet, in some cases, OSSA and other campus partners will or already have implemented the interventions.
Revised Intake Process
Under BTAT, referrals were received and flowed through an intake process with MSU Police and Public Safety. BIT referrals were gathered from Residence and Education Housing Services, OSSA, the Community Liaison, MSU Police and Public Safety, and other partners. Under the Care and Intervention Team, referrals/intake will be managed by OSSA rather than MSU Police, ensuring police records are not created when unneeded.
The “Care” portion of the Care and Intervention Team introduces a team of non-clinical case managers in OSSA who will work to provide resources to the impacted parties while also supporting the person of concern. They will follow up with reporting parties, make referrals to appropriate offices, and direct case management with students while coordinating with other appropriate units.
Units across campus are encouraged to invite OSSA to help train offices about this new team. Fritz believes one of the most important messages for people to know is how and what to report. Reports can be submitted via a form at ossa.msu.edu/cait. While the Care and Intervention Team reporting form is meant to refer to situations that are of concern, it is not to replace direct referrals to services such as CAPS, EAP, etc. Urgent issues should still go to 911 (including welfare checks).
What should be reported?
- Thoughts of suicide or harming self
- Threats or acts of violence to others
- Acts of physical harm to self
- Any behavior that is unusual or unexpected given the circumstances
After a report is made, it comes to OSSA and the case managers. The team of case managers then reach out to the appropriate unit, such as Human Resources, the Residential Care and Community Expectations team, etc. Outreach and follow-up are done to assess the correct resources and courses of intervention.
It is an extremely important process, one that OSSA feels allows the team to lead from a place of care to potentially meet a wide spectrum of needs.
Allyn Shaw, assistant vice president for the Department of Student Development and Leadership and interim dean of students, of which OSSA falls under, agrees it is important for people to know how to report and is confident the team will make big impacts.
“A safe and supportive environment for our community is paramount. We are excited about the Care and Intervention Team and are confident the updates that it provides will be beneficial for Spartans,” noted Shaw. “This is extremely important work being done. It’s vital to continue progressing and updating the process to make reporting and intervention easier and more impactful. With the introduction of the Care and Intervention Team, we believe this progresses that effort in substantial ways.”