At Bellefonte Area School District, staff members are used to facilitate Safety-Care training with other district employees who may need to know the technique. Those in-district trainers are teachers Anita Caruso, Erin Cernuska and Erin Chapman, and special education secretary Macada Loner.
Safety-Care is primarily a verbal de-escalation technique and set of strategies teachers and other staff members can use to deescalate or calm down students when they are having challenging behaviors. There is also a limited physical restraint component, but the emphasis is on the verbal de-escalation aspect and what support strategies an individual can use with students when in need.
Director of Special Education Gina MacFalls said the district uses Safety-Care as the primary technique that would best serve the district with in-house trainers for easy management of staff certifications.
“In the rare event that we would need to go hands-on with a kid, we support a (program) that is research-based and safe,” MacFalls said. “The main component is safety, which is right in the title. It’s keeping the kid and the person doing the restraining safe.”
The ideal employee needing to learn Safety-Care are those in special education or who are working with a student where a Safety-Care plan is written into his or her IEP. Training is prioritized by those employees who need it most, starting with recertifications and those who need to be initially trained, such as new employees. In the summer of 2018, MacFalls said every paraeducator in the district was trained, whether they worked with general or special education students.
This information is also discussed with families who have children in the district with Safety-Care as part of their Individualized Education Plan. Safety-Care emphasized protocol with a goal to minimize, manage and prevent certain behavior.