School Counseling Program Shut Down

Tuesday, April 17th 2007, 7:36 pm
By: News On 6

The News On 6 has learned Rogers County schools are facing counseling cutbacks. Until last Friday, Rogers County Youth Services provided counseling to hundreds of students right at their schools. But now the agency says it does not have enough money to continue the program. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports Rogers County Youth Services is there for students who are in trouble. Now the agency is in some financial trouble, and they say its the kids who'll miss out.

Many kids across eastern Oklahoma have very adult problems.

"Its a very difficult thing for a parent to face the fact that their child might be struggling in some areas," said one mother of four. She knows all too well what it is like to deal with a child who needs help beyond what she could give.

"I was praying for what can I do to help my child. He's making poor decisions and he needs some help outside the family," the mother, who did not want to be identified, said.

Herb McSpadden helped this mother find a counselor through Rogers County Youth Services. The agency has a program that sends three counselors into schools like Verdigris to help troubled students. Each counselor helps about 200 kids every year.

“Because we're able to go to schools we're able to provide services that these kids probably wouldn't have otherwise," McSpadden said.

Now those services are being cut. Verdigris schools are fortunate, they have a fulltime counselor at every school. But some Rogers County school districts are not as lucky.

“I know in one school system, in particular Justus-Tiawah, we're the only counselor that goes out to that school system," said McSpadden.

School leaders say even schools with counselors will be affected.

"Even though we have a counselor at every site every counselor would tell you that any additionally help is extremely beneficial,” Verdigris Elementary Principal Jim Anderson said.

The mother we spoke with says the program and her son’s counselor answered her prayers.

“It’s been a struggle, but it made the struggle a lot more bearable because I had her walking through it with me,” she said.

Herb McSpadden says his counselors were fielding more than 30 referrals every month. And the only way to keep the program in the schools is for the state to give them more money.