FC-STARS Program


Advanced Counseling Services in collaboration with FCPS/CASS proposes:

FC-STARS Program

Frederick County-Stand Tall and Remain in School


Advanced Counseling Services in collaboration with FCPS/CASS plans to offer a targeted therapeutic program to support students demonstrating problems with attending school regularly.  Research has shown that youth who chronically miss school have a higher chance of economic, social, marital, and psychiatric problems in adulthood.  Therefore, efforts directed at improving attendance are important for enhancing long-term outcomes for our students.


According to Kearney (2008), “school refusal behavior” is a useful term that refers to a collection of different kinds of attendance problems along a spectrum.  Addressing school refusal behavior requires a thorough assessment to pinpoint the form and function of the school refusal behavior as well as identify any co-morbid conditions and/or contextual factors that may be contributing.  The assessment process is followed by specific interventions aimed at improving the school refusal behavior. Specific, therapeutic interventions may include but not be limited to psychoeducation, behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychiatric consultation, and possibly medication. 


Advanced Counseling’s FC-STARS program aims to offer a comprehensive, therapeutic, and multidisciplinary team approach to identify, assess and treat the variety of complex reasons for school refusal behavior. It therefore requires commitment from the family, FCPS school personnel, and the ACS Clinical and Support Staff in order to address environmental, behavioral and/or mental health issues that cause or contribute to school refusal behavior.  

Advanced Counseling/FC-STARS 

(A Therapeutic Program offering support for improving school attendance)

Program Name:

FC STARS (Frederick County Stand Tall and Remain in School) Program 


Target population:

FCPS Students in grades K-12 demonstrating evidence of school refusal behavior. 


Eligibility Criteria:

  • Medical Assistance 

  • Suspected school refusal behavior evidenced by attendance pattern

  • Screening by ACS director for appropriateness of referral 


Program Expectations:

  • Parent/Guardian Participation  

  • One school year commitment encouraged

  • Initial and quarterly review meetings between family, ACS Staff, and FCPS Staff


Referral Process:

  • FCPS Staff with parent/guardian consent initiate referral to ACS using written referral form and specifies request for FC STARS

  • ACS Director screens referral to confirm appropriateness

  • If deemed appropriate for FC STARS, ACS schedules an initial meeting to include parent/legal guardian, ACS Director and designated FCPS Staff (School Counselor, CASS Coordinator, and/or PPW, etc.) to get preliminary information about school refusal behavior, possible etiology, duration, impact and efforts made by the school to engage student and family. 

  • Identify a point person at from ACS and the School for ongoing communication and schedule future quarterly meetings.



Program Details:

  • Offers a flexible team approach to provide a wrap-around model of service to families to address school refusal behavior.  


The team may include any combination of the following and is determined on a case-by-case basis:

    • A Licensed Mental Health Professional (LCSW-C, LCSW,  LGSW,LGPS OR LCPC) 

    • An MSW Intern 

    • A Bachelor Level Therapeutic Mentor 


  • Families will have contact with a team member up to 5 days/5 hours per week. 

  • All appointments are scheduled in advance.


Psychiatric Care:

  • An appointment with the psychiatrist may be scheduled for further assessment and to determine the need for mediation management. 

  • For non-attenders, a 30-60 day home and hospital request can be considered with a detailed school reintegration plan. 

Quarterly Review Meeting:

  • The entire team including AC Staff and FCPS Staff

  • Parent/Guardian

  • Student (if appropriate)


Expectations and Limitations:

  • All appointments must be scheduled. 

  • Parent participation is essential to the success of the student and the program

  • An understanding that progress might be slow and that ACS staff have to build rapport, and it might take several weeks before the child can attend school regularly

  • Email communication will be the best means of communication

  • ACS staff while in sessions may not be able to answer calls. Messages will be returned within 24 hours. 

  • Collaboration with school counselor may be necessary to consider temporary alternative school schedule as deemed appropriate by the school.