Enhancing Community Resources
The plan for school crisis preparedness and response cannot and should not be developed by the school system in isolation. Members of a diverse group of disciplines and professions who represent the full range of community resources should be involved directly in both planning and implementing the school crisis response plan. Through an organized, collaborative, and capacity-building planning process, the community can anticipate the majority of needs that may arise in a school crisis and then draw on the membership of the crisis response team and resource groups to identify available resources. An extensive network of partners from various service sectors, including police, other government agencies, mental health providers, and social services agencies, should be established and maintained. Then the necessary steps can be taken to develop the resources not currently available.
Although a time-consuming task, maintaining this network has benefits far beyond crisis intervention. The network allows the school and community to address a broad array of prevention and intervention services related to the mental health and safety of children and young adults within the region. For example, some school crisis situations will require the services of police and fire rescue teams. Promoting proactive and collegial relations with the local police will help minimize conflicts around organizational responses and allocations of resources by the police during crises. In addition, maintaining proactive and collegial relationships will make the interactions and communications between schools and police more effective in noncrisis incidents, such as in criminal investigations and arrests of students on school grounds or student probation discussions between juvenile justice personnel and school authorities. An effective working relationship with law enforcement is an immediate payoff of crisis preparedness and helps preserve commitment to the process of crisis planning by all of the community. A successful, effective school crisis response plan must benefit not only the school and its local community, but also the school district and the larger community. Only when all elements of the larger community are involved can a successful school crisis response plan be developed, implemented, and maintained.