DCPS, OPS: Employee Support Program Meets Critical Need | Messages
For more than 30 years, the Daviess County Public Schools system has partnered with a local counseling service to offer an Employee Assistance Program to employees and their families.
The EAP is a free service for all employees in the district. Employees can anonymously access the counseling service through Owensboro Health, the district’s current partnership for services, and seek assistance with a variety of needs including stress, anxiety, depression, and more, according to Amy Shutt, DCPS Assistant Superintendent for Human Services.
According to the US Office of Personnel Management, EAPs are voluntary, work-based programs that provide free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, and more to employees with personal and / or work-related issues.
While the district recognized the need for mental health support for employees and their families years ago, there has been a renewed focus on these types of services nationwide since the pandemic began, Shutt said.
The need for this kind of help for everyone has never been greater, she said.
Over the past two years, DCPS has worked with districts across the Commonwealth to increase student support by recruiting more counselors. This, along with social-emotional learning and other programs designed to promote student positivity, was paid for through state coronavirus relief funds.
School staff give a lot to students every day, and it’s important to encourage them to also maintain healthy lives and work-family balance, Shutt said.
The district “seeks an employee-centric orientation by supporting the general well-being of employees, including mental health,” she said.
The EAP is one of many areas that the district offers to support.
During the spring semester, the district encourages employees to participate in monthly wellness activities.
“Mental health and physical health are interrelated, and we want every employee to be the best of themselves every day,” said Shutt. “For children to come first, we need to focus on overall health and support our employees.”
Jared Revlett, Owensboro Public Schools Public Information Officer, also recognizes the importance of providing these services to employees, especially during this time.
He said the city’s school district provides similar support to its staff as the DCPS, but through its current benefit program. It has no EAP.
“An EAP is something the district is considering in the future,” he said.