LPS adds more Safety Social Workers to help school security
Lincoln Public Schools recently added a new member to the threat assessment team.
Safety Social Worker Kristi Lange joined the team of four in January.
Lange and her colleagues assist with keeping more than 41,000 students safe. They collaborate with students who are at risk and their families to prevent unsafe situations. The Threat Assessment staff connects them to school and community resources like mental health services. Lange is now one of the two social workers on the team.
“I provide a non-judgmental approach when working with them and help them identify what things they feel are going well for them, build upon those strengths, but also help them identify what areas in their life they need the most help and start there. It’s really about meeting them where they are,” Lange said.
LPS has more than 40 school social workers working to build relationships with students, families and staff to identify the best possible solutions. Lange and fellow safety social worker Allyson Headrick focus on prevention by assessing reported concerns, intervening and monitoring before it reaches a crisis.
“LPS school social workers are master-level clinical social workers and licensed mental health practitioners, so we bring a unique skill set into our schools,” Lange added. “With our mental health expertise, we are able to connect the dots when something seems amiss and effectively help students and families get connected to additional supports.”
The threat assessment team works on approximately 120 cases each year. Some cases carry over from the previous year. The increased volume made it clear that an extra social worker was needed to serve students and families better.
“For every case that is successfully managed, we are creating a safer environment and preventing violence from occurring,” Jon Sundermeier said. Sundermeier is one of the security coordinators and leads the threat assessment staff.
Lange brings excellent expertise. She graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a master's degree in Social Work. She is a licensed mental health practitioner and licensed clinical social worker. She’s worked for LPS for the past five years, including serving as the social worker at Riley Elementary School. She also served as a therapist at a substance use treatment facility helping teens and adults before coming to LPS.
“Kristi has experience and expertise in behavioral health and a broad understanding of available resources in the community,” Sundermeier said. “She also brings certification and expertise in drug and alcohol abuse and addiction to the team, which will enhance our team's ability to address this risk factor."
“Our staff and students deserve a safe learning environment each and every day,” Lange said. “Being a part of a team that actively works to ensure that happens is what motivates me to continue to help improve safety outcomes with our students and families.”
Check out this feature story about some more of our social workers by clicking here.
Published: March 13, 2023, Updated: March 15, 2023