CAPS requests additional funding for salary increases
Counseling and Psychological Services presented their budgetary requests for the 2019-2020 term to the Student Fees Advisory Committee Thursday in Student Center North.
CAPS has requested funds totaling $2,167,758 for the upcoming year, which marks a slight increase from their granted funds for Fiscal Year 2019, which spans the 2018-2019 term.
CAPS was given an approved budget of $2,116,117 for FY19, of which around $271,000 was used for hiring contract clinicians and other staff, said Associate Director of Clinical Services Chris Scott. The $51,000 increase, if approved for FY20, would fund a salary increase among staff.
The goal of CAPS is to be there in “helping you weather any storms,” said CAPS Director Norma Ngo at the beginning of the presentation. “CAPS promotes well-being of the diverse campus community.”
The fully licensed staff employed at CAPS includes psychologists, social workers and professional counselors, Ngo said. The program also introduced contract clinicians last year.
According to the International Association of Counseling Services, the recommended ratio of clinicians to students should be within the 1:1,000 to 1:1,500 mark, a mark which UH has not yet met, Ngo said.
With current funding, CAPS is expecting to reach this benchmark by 2029, but a more realistic expectation would be the mid-2030s given funding, expansion of facilities and hiring new employees, Scott said.
The current clinician-to-student ratio is 1:2,207. In 2016, the department reported only one counselor per 3,285 students.
The department currently has two locations: one at Student Service Center 1 and another temporary location at the Health 2 Building, which is shared with other groups, Ngo said. They are focused on eventually getting everything back to SSC 1 due to logistics issues, she said.
Even with two current locations, CAPS has very limited space.
“Most of the time when we’re busy during the fall or spring, students are standing or waiting outside the frosted door,” Ngo said.
CAPS offers services including 24/7 crisis intervention, the “Question, Persuade, Refer” suicide prevention training, psychotherapy services, “Let’s Talk” drop-in consultations at five locations across campus and a newly-implemented walk-in system, which has received favorable reviews, Scott said.
“We can’t do it alone, so we arm you with the skills to provide (your own) assistance,” Ngo said of CAPS’s instructional services.
Some of the achievements of CAPS in the past year include an increase in“Let’s Talk” consultations by 63 percent and a 34 percent overall increase in utilization between last year and this year, which exceeds the national trend of students seeking counseling services, Scott said.
Challenges for the department in the last year include a small and aging facility, under-staffing relative to the amount of students at UH and a large amount of clients, 120 of which are currently on a wait list, Scott said.
“Students come in more distressed than the national average,” Scott said. “We barely have any time for folks who have less impact or distress.”
Even with a large amount of patients, the wait time between appointments is usually every other week, depending on the students’ needs, Scott said. This fall, CAPS has accommodated 729 total clients.