Western’s Care Team | Western Technical College

Western Technical College

Western’s Care Team

The Care Team strives to create a safe and inclusive campus culture, where students, faculty, and staff can succeed with support.

This interdisciplinary team provides a centralized system for faculty, staff, students, and parents to refer high-risk student situations. The ultimate objective is to assist students and the Western campus community to move from a state of distress and increased risk to a condition of safety and security.

The Care Team works together to:

  • address concerns of students’ well-being or behavior that may be harmful to self or others, or is disruptive or threatening
  • regularly monitor, review, and appropriately respond to reports received via email, incident reports or other regarding potentially harmful, threatening, or disruptive student behavior
  • triage all notifications of student behavior concerns to identify threat level and/or appropriate action
  • provide outreach, consultation, appropriate assessment, and/or referral for issues related to concerning student behaviors
  • create a unified reporting and tracking system that allows the Care Team to observe patterns of behavior and document the discussion, intervention, and recommended plan for identified students.

The Care Team is comprised of employees representing the Student Life Office, Residence Life, Counseling Services, Access Services, Campus Security, Human Resources, and faculty. The Team Leader is Director of Counseling Ann Brandau.

Online Care Referral Form

Anyone can refer a student to the Care Team via the online care referral form, including Western employees, students, family members, and others who believe a student might benefit from additional resources and support. 

Referrals are reviewed during normal business hours and are not monitored after hours, on weekends, or during official college holidays. For emergency or urgent situations involving immediate risk or threat to safety, security, or health, please call 911 and then contact Campus Security at 608-785-9191.

Care Team Members

The Care Team is Western’s behavioral intervention team for students of concern, led by the Director of Counseling. The team consists of representatives from various departments who meet every two weeks to discuss non-emergent issues and receive updates on previously submitted issues.

Members include:

Ann Brandau, Team Leader
Director of Counseling
brandauhyneka@westerntc.edu

Randy Christensen
Faculty Representative
christensenr@westerntc.edu

Leah Durnin-Hoover
Student Life Coordinator
durninhooverl@westerntc.edu

Kris Follansbee
Access Services Manager
follansbeek@westerntc.edu

John Heath
Human Resources Director
heathj@westerntc.edu

Shelley McNeely
Dean of Students
mcneelys@westerntc.edu

Raj Ramnarace
Security Manager
ramnaracer@westerntc.edu

Amy Thornton
Vice President of Student Service and Engagement
thorntona@westerntc.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

What sort of concerns are appropriate for me to refer?

Students in distress can present in a variety of ways. Some examples of students who might benefit from a Care Team intervention are students who are experiencing pain, anxiety, sorrow, or struggling with sadness, depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, thoughts of harming others, repeated classroom disruption, and those exhibiting signs of an eating disorder or threatening behavior. Again, distress can look different for every individual, so it’s best to reach out if you sense something.

Call Western’s Counseling Department at 608-785-9899 (leave message) if you believe a student is in distress and needs assistance and complete the Care Team referral. For emergency or urgent situations involving immediate risk or threat to safety, security, or health, please call 911 and then contact Campus Security at 608-785-9191.

Examples of a student in distress include but are not limited to:

  • Talk of suicide, either directly or indirectly, such as, “I won’t be around to take that exam anyway,” or “I’m not worried about getting a job; I won’t need one.”
  • Marked decline in quality of course work, class participation, quality of papers or test results; increased absence from class, or failure to turn in work
  • Prolonged depression suggested by a sad demeanor, apathy, weight loss, (appearance of lack of sleep) tearfulness
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene
  • Uncharacteristic comments in a student’s paper that arouse concern
  • Signs of excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Binging or purging of food
  • Withdrawal from friends or social isolation
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Nervousness, agitation, excessive worry; irritability, aggressiveness, non-stop talking
  • Bizarre, strange behavior or speech
  • Violent outbursts
  • Extreme dependency on faculty or staff, including spending much of his or her time visiting during office hours or other times

Is the information I share confidential?

Members of the Western Care Team can never promise confidentiality when life safety is an issue - however, the Care Team will treat information with utmost discretion and respect for the student’s privacy. With the exception of representatives from Counseling, members of the Care Team are obligatory reporters for potential Title IX violations and mandatory reporters for child abuse. 

What happens after I make a referral?

After a Care Team referral is submitted via the online referral system, you will receive an auto-generated email confirmation from the Care Team. You may be contacted for additional information related to the referral. Information will be gathered to assess the most appropriate department or individual to make contact with the student, which will occur as soon as possible.

Additionally, the director of counseling and dean of students will review the referral to determine the next steps, typically within 4 hours. They will connect with you to gather additional information and brainstorm the best way to proceed with the student, given the information provided. 

If a formal Care Team review is needed, the director of counseling and dean of students will assess the level of urgency, based on the NaBITA Risk Assessment rubric, and schedule a Care Team meeting accordingly.

Will the student know I made the referral?

It is recommended that before making a referral to the Care Team, Western employees and peers talk to the student first about their concerns and, when appropriate, refer the student to campus resources. However, there may be circumstances when this is not appropriate or possible. If requested in the referral form, members of the Care Team will take careful effort not to disclose the reporting party’s name. Due to the small size of our community or nature of your concern, however, the student may be able to guess who made the referral.

Can my report be anonymous?

Yes. However, please be aware if the Care Team is unable to follow up with you to verify information or ask clarifying questions, it may limit our ability to assist the student.

Will I be updated about the Care Team's response after making a referral?

The Care Team will make every effort to get back to you; however, we must maintain the student's privacy and some laws may keep us from sharing details about our follow up with you. If you have questions related to a referral you made, please contact the Counseling department at 608-785-9899 (leave message) or the dean of students at 608-785-9445.

How can I help the student directly?

Your expression of concern may be a critical factor in supporting a student’s well-being. You don’t need to play the role of a counselor; listening, expressing care, and offering resources to the student can go a long way! 

When speaking with a student you are concerned for, we recommend the following strategies:

  • Meet privately with the student.
  • Express your concerns and caring.
  • Ask open ended questions such as: "How are thing going for you?"
  • Share specific signs you've observed using "I" statements. ("I've noticed lately that...")
  • Listen attentively to the student's response and encourage them to talk (e.g. "Tell me more about that.")
  • Ask the student what they think would help.
  • Suggest resources and referrals. If possible, share any information you have about the particular resource you are suggesting and the potential benefit to the student. ("I know the folks in that office and they are really good at helping students work through these kinds of situations.")