Seattle Public Schools


Prevention and Intervention

Seattle Public Schools Prevention and Intervention

The Prevention and Intervention Program is committed to fostering and maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment in our schools.

With the goal of discouraging risky and unhealthy behaviors and encouraging healthy choices and positive attitudes we provide universal prevention education, early intervention, screening and identification of problem behavior(s), educational support groups, individual and family intervention, referrals to community-based social service and treatment providers, and back to school transition support services. 

Program Initiatives

It is the policy of Seattle Public Schools to provide a drug and alcohol-free environment for our students and staff. We do this through strong anti-drug policy, training for school staff, and providing students with evidence-based programs aimed at preventing the initiation of drug and alcohol use. For students who are already using, we assist in connecting them to early intervention and treatment services.

Students are taught about drugs and alcohol through evidence-based curricula which are proven to reduce experimental and continued use of substances. These curricula, such as  Project ALERTProject SUCCESSLifeSkills Training, motivate students against substance use by delivering facts about drugs and their use, providing them with skills and strategies to resist and refuse drugs and helping them establish beliefs and attitudes to maintain non-use. Several of our schools have on-site Prevention and Intervention Specialists to provide classroom education, group counseling, and family outreach and engagement.

Seattle Public Schools recognizes that families are the number one influence on whether children decide to use drugs.  We provide trainings to parents and guardians on youth substance use prevention and intervention, develop school-specific factsheets on youth substance use for parents/guardians, conduct campaigns (such as Safe Storage of Substances Campaign) to raise awareness among families and community members to keep youth safe. 

We also currently support three drug prevention coalitions which aim to create healthier communities by building strengths in families, schools and neighborhoods. Two of these coalitions are funded by the Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative CPWI  (Healthy Youth Central Area Network HYCAN and the South West Seattle Youth Alliance SWSYA) and the CDC’s Drug Free Communities Program funds the third coalition (Westside HEY).

Possessing, using, distributing and selling of drugs and/or alcohol on school property violate school board policy. For more information on SPS’ disciplinary procedures, please visit the Discipline webpage. For a list of substance use treatment agencies, please refer to the “SPS Assessment Resources” document.

Research shows that good mental health is associated with higher productivity, better academic performance, and more consistent attendance.  We strive to support every student in need of mental health care and work to accomplish that through a few different routes:

  • Providing classroom education to students on various mental health topics including how to recognize a mental health concern and where to turn for help
  • Building partnerships with agencies that specialize in youth mental health services to address student’s mental health needs. Many of the agencies we have partnered with send providers to schools to render services. Many of our schools host School-Based Health Centers in their buildings that include full-time mental health clinicians to serve students
  • In addition to external mental health agencies,  school-based counselors, PI Specialists, social workers, and nurses  provide mental health screenings and intervention services including counseling and referrals.

Seattle Public Schools provides sexual health education that encourages family communication, respects diverse community values, and builds positive attitudes and skills needed to reduce rates of pregnancy, STDs and sexual violence. 

Sexual Health Education prepares students to:

  • Understand the changes that happen during puberty
  • Abstain from sex
  • Use condoms and birth control when they do have sex
  • Build skills to have healthy relationships
  • Ask for consent to engage in sexual activity and respect the boundaries of their partner
  • Communicate with their family about sexual health and dating
  • Make decisions that minimize risk to their sexual health
  • Seek medical care in order to take care of their reproductive health
  • Intervene or support when someone is being harmed
  • Know how to access community resources

For more information, please visit the Seattle Public Schools’ Sexual Health Education page  Families can also contact the following staff depending on their student’s grade level:

Elementary – Kai B Kunkel | 
Middle School – Lisa Davidson |
High School – Lisa Love |

Universal screening for behavioral health issues can help with early identification of students who are at-risk or in need of intervention, as research suggests that significantly more students require mental health or behavioral services than those who currently receive them.  Seattle Public Schools administers selected behavioral health screeners at designated grade levels within many of our schools.  These screening tools include the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, Check Yourself, and Global Appraisal of Individual Needs.  We recognize that family is the first source of support for a child’s behavioral health and ensure parents/guardians are notified of any intent to screen their child, given the opportunity to preview the screening materials, and provided the option to remove their child from participation.  Please contact your child’s school to learn more about any screenings they may be administering to students.

SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral To Services) is a framework that the SPS Prevention and Intervention Program supports at several secondary schools.  SBIRT includes a universal screening component using the Check Yourself screener. 

Our middle and high schools administer this survey every two years to measure various health-related issues including mental and sexual health and substance use. Survey results not only indicate changes in health behavior, they are also used to help identify areas where students need support. Read more about this survey.


SPS Drug and Alcohol Policies

Parent Guide to Preventing Youth Marijuana Use 

Parent Guide to Preventing Youth Marijuana Use Spanish

Youth Now Prevention Initiative