Helping Your Students - Faculty Resources - Christopher Newport University

Faculty Resources

Helping Your Students

Recognizing and Responding to Students in Distress

As faculty is it your duty to not only help your students in the classroom, but also ensure their safety and wellbeing. Please use to these resources to help you in recognizing and providing assistance to students in distress:

Captains Care Referral

Captains Care is a program run by the Center for Student Success. Contact them at or 4-7684 for more information.

CNU’s Captains Care Referral system is a mechanism designed to identify students who may be experiencing academic or personal difficulties early in the semester. Early identification of these students allows the Center for Student Success and other campus resource offices to provide support systems that address their needs, thereby increasing the likelihood of academic success.

Early detection and communication between faculty and staff is the cornerstone of the Captains Care Referral Program. Any faculty member concerned about a student’s failure to attend class, poor academic performance or personal behavior is encouraged to submit a Captains Care Referral.

What may seem like an isolated behavior in one class may be occurring in multiple classes, and intervention may be required. You can submit a Captains Care Referral through the Faculty Services page of CNU Live.

Faculty and/or advisers may utilize the Captains Care Referral system at any time during the semester. It is critical to refer a student as soon as you identify that the student is in need of support or have discussed a referral with that student. Even if you are working with the student to resolve the concern, a referral can be helpful.

Often students experiencing challenges in one area are also encountering problems in other situations. When support staff start to see multiple referrals and patterns, we can then coordinate our intervention efforts.

There are two types of referrals:

  • FYI-only referral can be used to share information with us. Students will not receive an email notification for FYI-only referrals and we will not follow up with the student. We'll make an exception if we receive multiple FYI-only referrals in a short timeframe, or if our office has additional information about a student that warrants outreach from our office.
  • A request follow-up referral is one where a faculty member requests appropriate follow-up with a student. The involved student will receive an email notification stating a professor is concerned and the area(s) of concern selected by the professor. In either circumstance, you'll hear from a caseworker in our office to let you know we've received your Captains Care referral.

There are many different signs that a student may be in academic or personal distress. Below are some warning signs that a student may need your intervention.

  • Class absences
  • Struggling with course concepts
  • Low test or quiz scores
  • Not completing homework assignments
  • Lack of classroom participation
  • Does not bring books or notes to class
  • Decline in work quality
  • Knowledge of personal or family difficulty
  • Disruptive behavior in class
  • Withdrawal from a course
  • Work not at course level
  • Concerned comments from other students
  • Change in demeanor or appearance

When you submit a referral and request follow up from our office, the student receives an email notifying him or her that a referral has been submitted. Within that email, the student will see the area(s) of concern you selected and an email link to the appropriate support office to contact to discuss the concern.

As a faculty member, it is often helpful if you have a conversation with the student to determine his/her needs so you can make a referral that will best serve the student. During this conversation, we advise that you tell the student you are sending a referral. When referring the student, it is important to explain that this service is in no way punitive but is designed to help. Talking frankly with students about this service will help them understand the benefits of taking advantage of the resources and services available to them on campus.

In addition, students who know they have been referred by their instructor or adviser are more receptive when they are contacted about the referral. Please be sure to emphasize that being referred is a positive thing designed to support the student and help him/her achieve educational goals.

The student population is diverse. It is hard to know what will work best in every situation. Listed below are some ideas you might find helpful when approaching the topic of a referral:

  • Be nonjudgmental when talking to the student.
  • Be specific when stating your concerns.
  • Be positive! A referral is the beginning of a solution and is designed to help the student succeed.
  • Show that you are committed and that you care if the student succeeds.
  • Tell the student to check their CNU email for a message regarding the referral. It will tell them whom they need to contact.
  • Follow up to make sure someone participating in the referral process has contacted the student (e.g., Center for Student Success, Office of Counseling Services, Athletics, Office of Student Affairs).

  1. Access the referral form through CNU Live.
  2. Select Faculty Services from the CNU Live menu.
    1. Select the Faculty Atlas.
  3. At the bottom of the possible options, click Captains Care Referral Form.
  4. Select the current term, and then enter the student's ID number. NOTE: You may only search by last name if you are the student's adviser.
  5. The top of the form will self-populate with information regarding the student. If you are submitting a referral for a specific course, you may then select the course you are concerned about.
  6. Under Areas of Concern, select all that apply. If you have a concern that is not listed, you may enter it in the Other field. The area of concern you indicate here is what the student will see in his or her email notification.
  7. If you would like to make a confidential note to the Center for Student Success, enter it in the Instructor / Advisor Concerns field. Comments made in this portion of the referral will NOT be shared with the student. NOTE: you can only input plain text in this field.
  8. Under Contact with Student, please let us know if you have contacted and/or met with the student.
  9. Under Requested Action, please choose either FYI-only or request follow up. Your choice will determine whether the student receives an email notification from the Captains Care referral system and follow up from our office.
  10. When you have completed the form, click Continue. You will see a summary of your referral and can make any changes at this time. If your referral is correct, click Submit.
  11. Once you submit your referral, you will see confirmation that your referral has been submitted. In addition, you will receive an email confirmation of your referral.

Once a faculty member or adviser completes and submits the online form, the referral is sent to the Center for Student Success. Our staff monitors submissions and determines the best course of action and/or point of contact. What happens next depends on your selections and the information provided.

If you marked “FYI only,” We will process the referral. Your concerns will be shared with the appropriate caseworker, but the student will not be contacted. A caseworker will notify you that he or she received your referral and that it has been “closed.” If multiple referrals or other concerns are submitted for the student, we may decide this “FYI only” referral needs the caseworker to follow up with the student. You will then receive an email from the caseworker stating that he or she will contact the student.

If you requested appropriate follow up, we will process the referral, and a caseworker will be assigned (see back page for potential caseworkers). A caseworker should always notify you upon beginning the outreach process, which is as follows. Students may receive the following outreach attempts for a Captains Care Referral: automated and personalized emails, RA outreach, a phone call and/or text message.

We strive to close all referrals within 10 business days. A caseworker will notify you when the outreach process concludes or after meeting with a student to discuss the referral, whichever happens first. Please note: Just because we may “close” a referral, it does not mean we have stopped trying to reach the student.

Sometimes students choose not to respond to the outreach process, and they are not required to do so. At this point, a caseworker will close out the referral and notify you that he or she was unable to speak with the student. Rest assured, if your comments indicated you were concerned about a student’s well-being and we were unable to discuss your concerns, we will check with our campus partners and/or the student’s other professors to make sure the student has been seen on campus and is physically safe.

Sometimes a student chooses not to respond to the Captains Care referral. Students are not required to respond to our outreach attempts. At this point in the process, a caseworker will close out the referral and notify you that they were not able to speak with a student about your concerns.

If your comments indicated you were concerned about a student's well-being and we were not able to discuss your concerns with the student, then we'll check with our campus partners and/or the student's professors to make sure the student has been seen on campus and is physically safe.

No. We treat all referrals in an ethical manner in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines.

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