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Referrals from Afar

By: Makenzie Schiemann, M.S. Vice President, Case Management Initiatives, TNG, Executive Director, NaBITA

Coordinating and facilitating connections to resources is one of the main functions of a BIT and a case manager. Case managers provide seamless and integrated referrals to campus and community resources as an intervention for students. This means that case managers should help create pipelines to resources by eliminating barriers to access and communicating clearly about referral options. With the pressures of COVID-19, this fall semester has presented some challenges related to facilitating referrals, as some referral sources are only offering virtual services, some of your students may be taking online classes and living in another city or even state, and students and families may be facing unprecedented financial challenges. While challenging and different, making connections to resources remains a vital role for the BIT and case manager, even when the referrals are facilitated from afar. Here are some tips and resources for making referrals for students that may be located away from your campus and/or may be experiencing financial difficulties:

  1. Get good at Google searches! A good Google search can quickly get you to local resources for the student. In your search include the city or county name, followed by what kind of resources you are looking for (homeless, mental health, food pantries, health clinics, victim advocacy, etc.). For example: “Pinellas County mental health resources.” Usually this type of search will generate dozens of local resources, typically including websites or PDFs that include an overview of the city or county’s free or low-cost resources.

  2. City or county websites: Visit the city or county health department website for a comprehensive list of resources available, or to talk with someone in the local area who is familiar with the area’s resources.

  3. Nationwide referral sites: There are several websites that serve as databases for referrals nationwide.
    1. is a database for mental health referrals including therapy and psychiatry. The website allows you to enter the student’s zip code, insurance if available, services needed, and preferences in providers.
    1. is a more general referral database where you can search by zip code for free or reduced-cost services like medical care, food resources, job training, and more.
    1. is a referral website that connects individuals to services in their area across a wide range of resources including basic needs, criminal justice services, health care, financial resources, medical and mental health care, and more.

  4. Your Colleagues! Reach out to the BIT or case manager at a university or college in the student’s hometown to see if they know of resources in the area. Usually the teams or case managers at the local schools have already done research into and established relationships with the local resources in their area. Remember, you don’t have to do this work alone – we are a community here to help each other!