SGA Helps Fund and Expand Counseling Center Taxi Voucher Program
This past September, the Counseling Center began offering vouchers to students for taxi rides to off-campus psychiatric providers. “This initiative was the outgrowth of a gift from the parents of the Class of 2017,” said Andrew Demaree, Director of the Skidmore Counseling Center. This initiative connects students who use off-campus providers for open-ended medication management with a taxi voucher. This program is open to any student for whom a taxi ride presents a financial hardship, and the only other requirement is that the service provider be located outside of downtown Saratoga Springs, since students already get free transportation to downtown Saratoga with the CDTA bus.
In January, the Counseling Center partnered with the Student Government Association (SGA) and, more recently, a parent donor, to begin offering taxi vouchers to students in financial need who are referred to a specialized open-ended psychotherapy service off-campus. Demaree expects that this program will be more heavily used than the original voucher program, because more students seek therapy than medication.
“We started offering vouchers because we know there are students who would benefit from more specialized or open-ended care in the community, and we wanted to help reduce obstacles to accessing care for students who don’t have reliable transportation and for whom regular taxi rides would present a financial hardship,” said Demaree.
The entire cost of the program won’t be fully known until the end of the year, as it depends on the number of students who qualify for vouchers, the number of visits they have and the distance they travel to get to and from their appointments, according to Demaree.
SGA has already invested around $1,000 dollars into the program. SGA is covering this cost with money from their program support fund, which also covers matters like clubs and school dances. Program support money is made up of the $319.50 student activities fee paid by each student. “SGA recognizes that while all students have to pay this fee, not all students reap the direct benefits of this money; we believe that using the funds in this way benefits a larger segment of the student body and allows students to experience more direct benefits of that money,” said Tayler Salvatore ’18, SGA President. SGA also has a donor that has agreed to match the fund up to $2,000 for the next three years (if the fund continues). As of now, the donor has matched the $1,000 SGA has put into the initiative.
Currently, SGA receives monthly updates on the program from the Counseling Center, but they plan to review the program at the end of the semester. If the program proves to be successful, then Salvatore and SGA Executive Vice President, Nicki Werner ’18, plan to ask the SGA Student Senate to allocate more money to the program fund and make the fund a yearly commitment.