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School board approves new employee assistance program

Employees of the Sunnyside School District will now have a place to turn to when something traumatic is occurring in their lives.

The Sunnyside School Board approved at its August meeting an agreement with Far West Family Services of Seattle to provide needed assistance for employees.

Some of the services Far West Family Services will be offering include counseling sessions, an available hotline to call in stressful situations and an on-line resource to assist with other available resources.

Katie Frisbie of Far West Family Services explained some of the benefits to the program. District employees will have access to four free counseling sessions under the program. Additional sessions can be paid for by individual insurance plans. The service, she said, also provides administrators an opportunity to make counseling referrals for employees they see may be having trouble.

"Everything we do is very confidential," said Frisbie.

Frisbie said the program provides a win-win situation for the school district. It helps employees deal with stressful situations while getting them back to being productive workers.

Under the program, school board members are even eligible to receive counseling services.

The district will pay Far West Family Services $1,380 per month. The fee is based on a rate of $2.30 per employee per month, covering 600 employees.

Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole told the board the district has been looking for such an employee assistance program for a while and feels this one is a good match.

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