The Skill Building Program


The Skill Building Program is a partnership between local school districts and Direction Service in an effort to increase student social, emotional, and behavioral support year-round. Direction Service Skill Builders are Qualified Mental Health Associates, working on-site in local elementary and K-8 schools, to assist youth who experience escalated emotions. With individual and group skill building, we help youth learn skills and tools they need to better regulate their emotions. This team also provides crisis de-escalation and recovery support to students with significant challenges. Our team is connected to Direction Service's larger network providing school-based support and advocacy, connection to resources, and wraparound services that families can access if needed. We hope to connect families to support services outside of schools, helping to change the trajectory of children’s lives.

Learn more about Direction Service and the Skill Building Program in the video below!

Skill Builders provide:

  • An adult who can help students work through hard moments

  • Small group instruction in social skills

  • Individual instruction and coaching of self-regulation skills

  • Connection between the family and school

  • Support for staff members in how to support students

  • Connection between family and a larger network of community resources

Skill Builders bring specialized training:

  • Mental health model embedded into our schools

  • Supports such as Collaborative & Proactive Solutions/Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) and Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

  • Trauma Informed Practices

  • De-escalation strategies

  • Behavior Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtIi)

  • Culturally Responsive Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (CRPBIS)

What is Skill Building?

Skill Builders Support Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

Watch this 3 minute video to learn more about SEL.

When skill builders work with a child, it might look like play, and that’s because it is! Kids learn best through play, in an environment where they feel comfortable and safe to be brave and try new skills. Mr. Rogers said, “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” While playing together we are: establishing a relationship of trust, assessing your child’s strengths and areas of growth, modeling appropriate social interactions, individualizing lessons based on your child’s interests, noticing your child’s learning style, and learning how and when to ever so gently nudge them out of their comfort zone to try new and challenging things.

We teach social and emotional skills to kids using different tools and let the child take the lead. We bring with us books, games, art supplies, puppets, cooking projects, and sensory making activities. We can use curriculum in traditional ways to start conversations so that kids can discover social emotional skills with us. We also involve parents to strengthen the relationship between parent and child. Parents are their child’s first teacher. We also know that parenting is an important and challenging job. We offer parents parenting education ideas, self-care ideas, stress management practices, and access to community resources.

All of us have skills and abilities, strengths and areas of improvement. Skill builders like to say “We’re all working on something!” Even adults can have goals to work on areas of growth so that we can become stronger, wiser, and kinder adults for the kids in our lives and for ourselves.

A Collaborative & Proactive Solutions/Collaborative Problem Solving

(CPS) Foundational Philosophy


Checkout this FAQ Sheet to learn more about Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS). Direction Service Skill Builders utilize the CPS model when working with youth and families.

For more information on CPS, visit

"Rethinking Challenging Kids- Where There's a Skill, There's a Way"

Listen to Stuart Ablon's TEDx talk, in which he explains the CPS model.

Want to learn more? We recommend reading or listening to Raising Human Beings by Dr. Ross W. Greene Ph.D.

We welcome any and all feedback on this site & how it can be most useful for you and your family!