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Referral and How to Access Psychosocial Supports

Learn more about referral and how to access psychosocial supports.

Making a referral to services is going to look different if you are the child’s caregiver or a trusted adult such as a teacher. Below is a list of steps to follow when making a child-friendly referral.

Step One

Know what services are available and how to access them is really important. Use the child-friendly service map that you created in the last step. Keep the service mapping accessible to both you and other adults who might be responsible for making a referral. You can also share the mapping with others in your community!

As a teacher, making a referral will look slightly different. Check with your school administrator to determine if there is a referral protocol already in place and if not, encourage the creation of one. Teachers and other education personal should always be in communication with the child’s caregiver if considered safe.

Step Two

Recognize the signs of distress in children. We learned in the previous steps, the most important thing to look for is CHANGES in behavior, mood or physical symptoms. Picking up on these early warning signs can be difficult. Stay connected to the child, check in with them regularly and encourage open communication so they feel comfortable coming to you when they might be feeling unwell.

Warning signs that may indicate distress in children:

  • Withdrawing from playgroups and friends
  • Competing more for the attention of parents and teachers
  • Being unwilling to leave home
  • Being less interested in schoolwork
  • Becoming aggressive
  • Having added conflict with peers or parents
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Nightmares
  • Bedwetting
  • Feeling sick without an organic cause (stomach aches, headaches, dizziness, difficulty breathing)

Girls and boys may display these changes differently, but every child is unique and may show early warning signs through various changes in behavior, mood, and psychical symptoms.

Step Three

When you speak to the child, it is helpful to not judge what they are sharing and speak calmly with them. Note what they are saying and make decisions with them. If you are a teacher, be in communication with the caregiver of the child and seek consent.

Step Four

Stay calm – and take care of yourself! In Unit 5, you will practice strategies to take care of yourself. Most importantly, think about both the child’s and your own well-being throughout the process. This may mean involving another adult to help you.

Step Five

If you are the child’s caregiver, bring your child to access one of the services you mapped in Step One. If you are another trusted adult, contact the caregiver or parent, and share clear information about how to access the necessary services.

Step Six

If possible, follow up to make sure that the child was able to access and benefit from the service you recommended. It is possible that they will need more services, so try to stay in touch and work with the trusted adults and service providers in the child’s life. Lastly, it’s important to note that when a child is referred to support services that they continue to engage in everyday activities, such as school, play with peers and staying connected to trusted adults.

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Coping with Changes: Social-Emotional Learning Through Play

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