Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Center for Supportive Schools: Student and Family Advisory

Student and Family Advisory is a school-wide program that provides students in middle and high school with the support they need to feel connected to and succeed in school, as well as prepare for the rigors of college and high quality careers. At least one adult in the school provides continuity of care to each participating student and his or her parent/caregiver by remaining in close contact with them during the entire time they are enrolled in the school, thereby increasing school connectedness.

Student and Family Advisory is implemented in middle and high schools during the school day. Schools form advisory teams that include 12 to 15 students of a particular grade and one to two staff advisors who lead regularly scheduled meetings with their teams (at least once each week for 40 minutes). Teams remain intact until students graduate from the school, so the same advisors remain with the same students throughout their tenure. As a result, students feel cared about by both a trusted adult and the peers in their advisory team.

By its nature and structure, Student and Family Advisory implicitly targets populations that are often disproportionately affected by substance abuse and its associated issues. The program can be, and has been, tailored to address the needs of specific high-risk populations in a given school (e.g., pregnant girls, students who have been moved to an alternative learning setting for behavioral or emotional problems). Student and Family Advisory also helps schools more quickly identify students who need additional support from a school counselor or other professional for a mental health problem or other issue associated with substance abuse. Because of this, schools that implement the program must commit to ensuring that there are sufficient high quality service providers within and outside of the school that are available for student referrals and follow-up.

With funding from SAMHSA’s FY2014 Subcontracts to Build Evaluation Capacity for Evidence-Based Interventions, the Center for Supportive Schools will enhance the evaluation of Student and Family Advisory to measure changes over time in students’ attitudes, skills, and behaviors by further strengthening newly developed evaluation instruments and implementing more rigorous methods. Specific activities will include:

Developing the post-program survey for advisors
Administering pre- and post-program surveys
Executing an evaluation design that includes a comparison school not receiving the program
Developing, finalizing, and implementing fidelity monitoring instruments for faculty advisor trainings
Finalizing and implementing fidelity monitoring instruments for program sessions


Sherry Barr
Vice President, Operations, Product Management, & Evaluation
Center for Supportive Schools
911 Commons Way
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: (215) 499-7161

Abby Attias
Vice President, New Product Development
Center for Supportive Schools
911 Commons Way
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: (609) 252-9300 ext. 103