SBIRT in Schools

About SBIRT in Schools

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Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) focuses on prevention, early detection, risk assessment, brief counseling and referral for assessment that can be utilized in the school setting. Use of a validated screening tool will enable school health teams to detect risk for substance use related problems and brief intervention strategies will help to address these concerns at an early stage in adolescents.

Legislation Mandating SBIRT in Schools

In March, 2016, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted an Act relative to substance use, treatment, education and prevention (STEP Act) which outlines the requirements for public schools in the Commonwealth to engage in substance use screening and education. Legislation can be found at (see Sections 15, 63, 64, 66).

SBIRT in Schools Training and Support

The MA Department of Public Health School Health Services is providing skills and implementation training to assist school districts in successfully incorporating SBIRT into schools.
See below to register or request a training in your district.

For questions:
Wanda Visnick, DPH SBIRT in Schools Coordinator
(617) 624-5964 


MaryAnn Gapinski, DPH Director School Health Services 
(617) 624-5427


Training Resources:

MDPH School Health Unit in collaboration with the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services is offering trainings to assist school personnel to implement SBIRT in Schools. The training offerings for the 2018-19 School Year are: 

  • SBIRT in Schools: Introduction to Verbal Substance Use Screening (6 hours)- This 6 hour workshop provides information on conducting verbal substance use screenings according Massachusetts law and approved practice standards. Learners will be introduced to the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in Schools program. This training is required for school nurses seeking DESE license and for all other school health personnel who will be involved in the screening process.  This workshop is for school professionals who have not yet attended an Introduction to SBIRT Workshop. There is no “Train the Trainer” model for SBIRT in Schools and all those participating in SBIRT screening should attend.

    The training includes:

    • An administrative overview of the SBIRT mandated screening program,
    • An introduction to the CRAFFT II screening tool and instructions on how to use the tool,
    • Motivational Interviewing skills to use immediately by the screener while discussing verbal screening results with students.

    Save the Date!
    December 13, 2018
    January 29, 2019
    March 21, 2019
    May 15, 2019

    Register at the SHIELD website 

  • SBIRT in Schools: Implementation Essentials (3 hours)- This SBIRT skill building workshop is designed for school health personnel who will be directly involved in implementing SBIRT in their schools. Participants will enhance their skills in conducting Brief Negotiated Interviews (BNI) using Motivational Interviewing (MI) concepts, conducting healthy behavior reinforcement conversations, and performing referrals during the SBIRT process. Challenges identified in a school district’s implementation planning will be discussed and solutions developed. For districts/individuals who have not implemented SBIRT previously.
    Prerequisite: Participants must have attended a six-hour Introduction to SBIRT Workshop to register for this course.
    Request a training in your district at or check SHIELD website for upcoming sessions in a district near you.
  • SBIRT in Schools: Mastering SBIRT (3 hours)- Mastering SBIRT Workshop is a newly developed 3 hour long skills training to increase confidence and skills in responding to the CRAFFT-II screening results using Motivational Interviewing (MI) techniques.  The training includes discussion and practice of the REACT model for reinforcement of healthy decisions (negative CRAFFT screening) and the Brief Negotiated Interview model to be used for discussion with those students who screen positive for substance use. Discussion about referral, consent and confidentiality as well as a closer look about how to talk to teens about substances will be included. For districts/individuals who have implemented SBIRT previously.
    Prerequisite: Participants must have attended a six-hour Introduction to SBIRT Workshop to register for this course.
    Request a training in your district at or check SHIELD website for upcoming sessions in a district near you.

    NOTE: Attendance at the Implementation Essentials or Mastering SBIRT courses DOES NOT replace SBIRT in Schools Training: Introduction to Verbal Substance Use Screening requirement for DESE licensure for school nurses or the training requirement for school health personnel involved in SBIRT screening. 


Register for training at


Request a training

To request a Mastering SBIRT or Implementation Essentials training, complete a request form by clicking HERE.

MASBIRT TTA is also available for consultation by request if there are specific technical assistance needs of your district. Submit an online request for a consultation HERE.

DPH & DESE Guidelines and Recommendations:

DESE Office of Student and Family Support Guidance: 

State Requirement for Districts to Implement a Substance Use Related Verbal Screening Tool guidance can be found at




SBIRT Core Training:

Powerpoints: SBIRT in Schools: Introduction to Verbal Substance Use Screening
Powerpoints: SBIRT in Schools: Implementation Essentials
Powerpoints: SBIRT in Schools: Mastering SBIRT

    Implementation Resources:



    Treatment Resources

    Massachusetts Department of Public Health Youth and Young Adult Services

    Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline
    800 327-5050 
    The Massachusetts Helpline will continue to work with families and other key stakeholders to devise the most appropriate course of action for adolescents and young adults ages 13-24 in need of treatment for their use of substances. Options include:

    1. Placement in a stabilization program
    2. Placement directly at residential programs without a prior stay at stabilization level of care
    3. Referrals to statewide outpatient, community-based Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) services

    DPH Youth and Young Adult Referral Process Update 8-2-17

    DPH Youth and Young Adult Treatment Contact Information for Referrals- updated 10-2018

    Family Support and Guidance Helpline

    Grayken Center for Addiction/Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Family Helpline

    The Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids have teamed up to provide Massachusetts families with the support and information they need to help address a child’s substance use, whether your son or daughter is a teenager living at home or a young adult living independently.

    Accessing Data in Your Community 

    Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS)

    Monitoring the Future

    MA Youth Health Survey

    Metrowest Adolescent Health Survey