Central Rivers AEA crisis response team plays important role in school district’s time of need

Did you know that Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA) has a crisis response team that is available to partner with districts in times of crisis? This crisis response team consists of school social workers, school psychologists, work experience coordinators, and special education consultants who are trained to help others cope with traumatic events.

The Central Rivers AEA Crisis Response Team provides emergency planning and support for school personnel for a brief period of time in anticipation of or immediately following a school crisis. When there is a school-related crisis event, such as the death of a student or school employee, this team stands ready to guide administrators, staff, and students through the process of responding to the event. The team also provides support for other crisis events that can impact the school community, such as natural disasters and threats/acts of violence.

Crisis events can trigger many emotions, such as sadness, confusion, fear, disbelief, and anger. Individual responses to crisis events and situations can vary – we all experience and respond to things in our own way. Sometimes previous experiences or losses surface during a crisis event and having support available can be comforting and helpful. Traumatic experiences can impact us in many ways and the Central Rivers AEA Crisis Response Team members are trained in helping others manage and move through these experiences.

Our team provides support in a variety of ways and each response can be a little different. Our team is flexible in what we do so that we can meet a variety of needs that may surface during a crisis response. Some examples of how we may help include:

  • preparing for a traumatic event
  • coping with a traumatic event
  • facilitating individual and group counseling for students/staff
  • identifying individuals who may need follow up and/or referral to community providers
  • participating in before and after school staff meetings
  • supporting teachers who need assistance conducting classroom discussions
  • assisting with school communications
  • covering classrooms when teachers need a break
  • facilitating parent/caregiver support and education
  • facilitating crisis debriefings (opportunity to talk about the trauma with others who were involved)

AEA Crisis Response Team members are also available to “consult” and talk through questions, concerns, and situations with school district staff as well as provide resources. Central Rivers Area Education Agency has a Director of Creative Services/Communications who collaborates with the crisis response team and is available to support districts in writing crisis event statements and announcements.

Services from the Central Rivers AEA’s Crisis Response Team can be requested by school administrators contacting their AEA Regional Administrator. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Kandice Bienfang Lee

Kandice Bienfang-Lee, School Social Worker/Team Representative

Kandice Bienfang-Lee is a School Social Worker/Team Representative and one of the crisis response team leads for Central Rivers AEA. She can be reached at klee@centralriversaea.org. Central Rivers AEA serves over 65,000 students in 18 counties of Iowa. Learn more at www.centralriversaea.org.