The elementary schools of Upper Moreland School District will soon participate in a Temple University-led pilot program that will help address issues of child anxiety.
“We hear so many kids with anxiety issues, not just with test taking, but to the point where they don’t want to come to school,” Melanie Munden, the district’s director of special education, said. “When we heard about the project, we thought it would be something that our schools would be interested in.”
Speaking to the May 29 Upper Moreland School Board Programs and Services Special Education Committee, Munden presented an opportunity for the school district to take part in the “Cats & Dogs: Coping at Schools and Dissemination of Good Strategies” program of Temple University’s Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic.
The clinic’s director, Temple University professor of psychology Dr. Philip Kendal, leads the Cats and Dogs program.
According to “Cats & Dogs” literature, the program’s goal is to examine the sustainability of a “computer assisted cognitive-behavioral therapy,” focusing on anxious youth in schools.
Munden said that the school district learned about the program at recent visit to the MCIU. After a presentation by Kendall, Munden said the elementary schools’ psychologists and faculty were on board to participate with the program.
The program seeks a total of 80 school personnel (four from each of 20 schools) to volunteer to participate.
According to the “Cats & Dogs” literature, the program so far has nine participating schools in the first group. Upper Moreland School District will likely be included in the second group of volunteers.
The project’s three phases include data collection to assess the anxiety and current treatments in students grades one – four; participant training in the computer-based cognitive-behavioral therapy program; and two years of subsequent data collection.
Upper Moreland personnel stand to be given an “honorarium” at the end of the first two phases of the project, amounting to $500. The program literature also states that certain teachers that are asked to complete assessments will be paid $90.
According to Dr. Robert Milord, Upper Moreland School District superintendent, as an educational research study, the school board need not approve participation of the program.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. I think Phil Kendall is a very big name,” Mildrod said. “We would like to be very supportive of the community that tries to find better ways of working through child anxieties.”