Integrated Service Delivery Training Helps Schools Implement Best Practice

Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center
Publication Date: Oct 13, 2020

Integrated Service Delivery Training Helps Schools Implement Best Practice

October 13, 2020 – Sarah Nielsen, PhD, OTR/L, recently led a Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) workshop on integrated service delivery in special education for the Lennox, South Dakota School District special education staff. The training provided an overview of integrated versus pullout service delivery models and services across tiers 1, 2, and 3.


Integrated service delivery is based on the best-practice guidelines of placing students in the least restrictive learning environment possible. When students with an identified disability are served in a group setting, such as a classroom, all other students in that setting benefit from the service. This allows children who may be considered at-risk to learn valuable skills without needing their own Individualized Education Program.


In contrast, pullout service delivery removes students from the natural learning environment to implement service at an individual level. “If kids are working on skills to help get along with others, doing that alone probably isn’t very effective,” says Nielsen. “Providing an intervention in a natural context, such as recess or the lunchroom, allows kids to practice those skills in a meaningful way.” But Nielsen isn’t against pullout service delivery. “A child may be too challenged to express their emotions appropriately in the classroom and a pullout delivery model can teach basic skills that will eventually transfer to group settings.”


There are three tiers of intervention. Tier one is at the universal level, where services are designed for all students. Social Emotional Learning curriculums that are taught to all students by classroom teachers are considered tier one. Tier two is utilized for at-risk students who need additional, temporary intervention. Sessions with a school counselor or a six-week group intervention on self-regulation are examples. “The idea is that after a temporary tier two intervention, students would move back down to only universal intervention,” says Nielsen. If tier two is insufficient, students move on to a targeted and specific tier three intervention. Tier three is typically utilized by students that have been identified as having a disability that negatively impacts their educational performance.


“Schools want to provide integrated service delivery because they know it will help students be successful in their environment. It’s the logistics and planning that is unfamiliar to staff,” says Nielsen. The Mountain Plains MHTTC training provides tools and strategies that help staff build confidence, plan, and implement best practices in service delivery.


Sarah Nielsen, PhD, OTR/L has over 20 years of experience working with children, youth, and young adults with mental health issues in communities and schools. If you or your organization are interested in a similar training, contact Sarah Nielsen at sarah.k.nielsen@und.edu.


View our resources on Social Emotional Learning.

Visit our School Mental Health page.