Is Your 2019-2020 Special Education Therapy Team Staffed?

Therapy staffing needs

by Elise Mitchell, M.S. CCC-SLP + Chief Clinical Officer

This is the time of year where it’s “go time” for school special education administrative teams. Often I hear our partner school team members talk of their giant lists: 

  • room preparations,

  • classroom assignments,

  • budgetary approvals,

  • back to school nights, etc.

The last thing these “400 miles a minute” professionals need while preparing for back to school is a last-minute therapy staffing crisis.

Here’s a checklist to ensure that your multidisciplinary teams are adequately staffed and ready for the beginning of the year!

✔️Supervision Needs

Does your multidisciplinary special education team consist of an SLP-CFY, SLPA, or COTA?  While triple checking that your team is well-staffed, you’ll want to confirm that any of the aforementioned professionals have supervising plans and applicable approvals in place with an appropriately licensed and certified provider. Each state, discipline, licensing board and national governing body have requirements to adhere to which is what makes a strong and thorough supervisor a necessity, not a recommendation. 

✔️Unique Caseload Requirements 

Staffing for bilingual needs and other specific populations such as alternative communication can be time-consuming, expensive and result in a delay in services.  Now is a great time to go consult with your staff, discuss past caseloads and other demographics to confirm necessary specialists are on standby when needed to maximize the gains made in therapy and decrease workload for your current team that may not have these specialties. 

✔️Increase in Caseloads

If your therapy team had high caseloads the year prior and you know of a large group entering, it’s safe to say that the beginning of the year caseloads will be high and may be unmanageable - resulting in stress for therapists, decreased job satisfaction, and overall risk to compliance.  If you’re unsure if an additional team member will be necessary, I recommend partnering with staffing companies like DotCom Therapy to staff additional support. Often times staffing reactively as opposed to proactively leads to increased staffing costs, “warm body” hiring, and risk to compliance due to hiring and staffing delays. 

✔️Open Vacancies

I have been a part of every single DotCom Therapy onboarding season since the company was founded and this is the number one reason our partners come to us with quick staffing needs—their remaining vacancies simply cannot be filled. The reality is that OT, SLP and mental health providers are at a critical shortage and schools are not exempt from falling victim to that shortage.  One of the things I enjoy so much about DotCom, is watching our account management team enter a relationship with a school that has had a difficult time finding necessary professionals and having the pleasure of observing and collaborating with our team while they remove that burden from the school and provide the school with an experienced therapist to complete the missing piece of their special education team.  

As you’re going through that long, beginning-of-the-year checklist, double check that your special education team is staffed for the year ahead. Unsure if all your needs are met? Sign up for a consultation today and we can support you as you assess your needs.  Wishing you a wonderful school year! 

Elise Mitchell