When Allyson Headrick sees a troubled child, she sees a chance to make a difference.
Headrick is the security social worker for Lincoln Public Schools, a new position created this school year as part of a partnership between LPS and the City of Lincoln. Her challenge: Each day, she works with students at risk of harming themselves or others, as well as with the families and schools of those students.
Her job is about hope.
“It’s still about prevention to me, especially because they’re kids,” she said. “If we can do something to intervene, even when they’re experiencing the highest level of crisis a student can experience, we can still make a difference, improve safety outcomes, attempt to prevent a more significant safety concern, as well as system involvement later in adulthood. It’s crisis intervention, yes, but it’s really prevention.”
Headrick works as part of a team that includes LPS Security Director Joe Wright, LPS Security Coordinator Jon Sundermeier and Nate Hill, the threat assessment investigator for the Lincoln Police Department who is assigned specifically to LPS. Hill’s position also was created as part of the LPS-City partnership.
Headrick provides the mental health component of threat assessment for this team. Threat assessment, first developed by the U.S. Secret Service, is a progressive, forward-thinking method of addressing safety and security - early. As opposed to dealing with a crisis at hand, threat assessment aims at preventing situations from happening.
Mental health services are an integral part of this focus on prevention. Headrick gets to know the students she works with and often connects them to vital mental health services they never had access to in the past.
“It’s a balance. We have to figure out how to hold kids accountable but also how to get kids the support they need to succeed in school and life. The majority of the kids that get referred to our team have had some challenging life experiences, so it’s about finding out their story - how did they get to this point. Recognizing... you’re a person and I value your dignity and worth,” Headrick said.
Headrick’s past work experience made her the perfect fit for the security social worker position. Most recently, she worked as a social worker at Lefler Middle School and Holmes Elementary School. Prior to that, she worked at Lincoln Regional Center and with Lincoln Community Learning Centers.
As part of her new LPS position, Headrick also assists with implementing additional mental health services in the school district, including more therapists in schools, and consults with schools on safety planning.
Wright said the addition of Headrick to the LPS security team is vital to the school district’s ongoing efforts to promote and create a safe, secure learning environment for students and staff.
“Lincoln Public Schools values safety and security and our partnership with the City of Lincoln has allowed us to continue to invest not only in initiatives and programs, but in people, as well,” Wright said. “There’s no better example of this than Allyson and her new position. Her mental health expertise is critical to our work.”
Published: December 19, 2018, Updated: December 19, 2018