Student Assistance Program (SAP)

Student Assistance Program (SAP)

Program Overview:


The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Student Assistance Program (SAP), which is administered by the PA Department of Education’s Safe Schools Office in partnership with the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs’ Division of Prevention and Intervention, and the PA Department of Human Services’ Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, is designed to assist school personnel in identifying issues including alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and mental health issues which pose a barrier to a student’s success. The primary goal of the Student Assistance Program (SAP) is to help students overcome these barriers in order that they may achieve, remain in school, and advance. While Student Assistance Programs exist in other areas of the country, the structure and operation of the program in Pennsylvania is a unique expression of an integrated model serving the needs of Pennsylvania families and their students.

SAP is a systemic process using techniques to mobilize school resources to remove barriers to learning. At the core of this program is a group of SAP trained school professionals, and Liaisons from The COAD Group, that work with students and their families in a collaborative and confidential manner to identify possible barriers and offer services to help link students with appropriate school-based and/or community-based resources. SAP team members are trained to identify problems, determine whether or not the presenting problem lies within the responsibility of the school and to make recommendations to assist the student and the parent. When the problem lies beyond the scope of the school, the SAP team will assist the parent and student so they may access services within the community. The student assistance team members do not diagnose, treat or refer to treatment; but they may refer for a screening or an assessment for treatment.

The COAD Group’s Student Assistance Program is a leader in providing alcohol, tobacco, and other drug education, prevention and intervention services to Chester County school systems. Specifically, COAD SAP Liaisons serve as ad-hoc team members to forty (40) secondary SAP Teams in Chester County’s twelve (12) public school districts, whereby they provide SAP technical assistance and support to each core team in following the state mandated SAP process. In addition to regular core team meeting attendance, SAP Liaisons provide case consultation and resource allocation to each of the core teams to which they are assigned. As the team’s process cases, it is up to their collective discretion when a student is referred to the SAP Liaison for a behavioral health screening or for the completion of individual drug and alcohol education sessions.

School districts also have the opportunity to contract for additional Liaison services, including, but not limited to the following: behavioral health screening and assessment, education, emergency crisis and post-vention assistance, provisions for aftercare planning for students returning from behavioral health treatment, and the co-facilitation of school-based psycho-educational support groups. In collaboration with our Community Prevention Services, COAD makes additional prevention initiatives available to our partners in education.


Student Assistance Program County Coordination:


The COAD Group is responsible for the coordination and facilitation of Chester County’s SAP District Council, which provides a forum for student assistance professionals and their stakeholders to network, share resources, and to receive education through monthly guest speakers.

District Council Meetings are held at The COAD Group on the 2nd Friday of every month, September to May, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

(Click here for the 2015-2016 District Council Meeting Schedule)


Student Assistance Program Training:


The COAD Group is a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Approved Trainer for Student Assistance Programs. The student assistance process is based upon state guidelines, professional standards and policies, and procedures adopted by the local school board of directors. Professional training for team members in all phases of the student assistance process, which is consistent with state guidelines and conducted by a Commonwealth approved training provider, is required to ensure the appropriateness of the recommended services, effective interagency collaboration and compliance with state and federal laws protecting the privacy rights of parents and students.

The training of team members by a Commonwealth Approved Training provider ensures the board of school directors, school administrators, parents, students, and the public that team members have received up-to-date professional training consistent with accountable standards and appropriate procedures. Guidelines for the Commonwealth Student Assistance Program training system contain training standards and competencies for SAP team professionals. The training offered by The COAD Group is consistent with these standards and competencies.

Upon completion of SAP training and on-site competencies, team members are eligible to receive thirty (30) Act 48 credit hours and a certificate of completion.

The COAD Group conducts SAP Training throughout the year.

(Click here for The COAD Group SAP Training Flyer)


Program Contact Information:


For more information about Student Assistance Program Services,

Please contact Jacquelyn Taylor, Executive Director, by phone at 484-713-1101 or by e-mail at