Over the past year, our Educational Services team has been working hard on developing new ways to support the children we serve dealing with Autism and other Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities. The demands for our services have never been this significant, as we received more than 250 referrals from school districts looking for use of a therapeutic day school. Limited resources, particularly lack of available staffing, has been the primary reason we couldn’t bring more children into our program.
Our organizational objective and aspirations always have been to create a structure that would enable us to serve more children than we do today. This school year, we have implemented a new team model that divides the school into six teams of 3-4 classrooms per team. With shared resources per team that include support from Behavior Specialists, Occupational Therapists, Speech/Language Pathologists, Master Level Counselors, and an experienced LBS 1 certified Educational Coordinator, we are increasing our staffing capacity to add no less than 23 students and possibly more depending upon the needs of the children.
While we have paraprofessionals in teams, the addition of specialized skills helps us be less reliant on the use of paraprofessionals while improving the ratios of staff to students.
Each team will have a primary focus based upon the age and need of the child. The breakdown of the groups includes:
- Early Childhood and Life Skills Elementary, ages 3-5 and grades K-2
- Academic Skills Team, ages 8-13
- Life Skills Intermediate and Middle/Early High School, ages 8-14
- Vocational Skills Program, ages 13-22
- Mansion High School (Social & Emotional supports), ages 13-20
In putting these teams and overall model together, the school will continue to emphasize developing our students’ independence, their self-determination, and their ability to advocate for themselves. Ultimately, our goal is to prepare the children we serve to be as independent as possible so that they can maximize their opportunities in their future when school support no longer exists.
The new team model is one of several new changes and improvements we are implementing this year. I look forward to sharing how these progress with hopes of creating a structure and process to serve even more students in the time to come.
Based upon the referrals we see, the need is clearly there!