Establishing a good working relationship with your school is crucial to your advocacy for your child with school avoidance.
Your school is part of your team to help get your child back to school.
All states have guidelines on school-based Intervention teams. These teams go by different names in different places but all teams serve the same purpose – to meet the emotional, academic, and behavioral needs of students within regular education.
Information on how to access your school’s intervention team should be visible on the school’s website. If not, contact the guidance office or principal and ask about the school’s pre-referral intervention process and ask how to make a referral.
There are usually no rules about who is on a pre-referral intervention team but best practice is to have a multi-disciplinary team (i.e. administrators, nurses, regular & special education teachers, parents/guardians, and counselors) to gain different perspectives.
Parents play an active role on this team to determine strategies that will help their kids be successful.
They should share information about possible accommodations, modifications, strategies and evidence-based interventions helpful for school avoidance.
The process usually follows a format of:
As we mentioned above, each state has its own specific guidelines for its Intervention Teams.
New Jersey does a good job explaining the purpose of intervention teams:
The job of the pre-referral team is to help solve problems, not to just be a prerequisite for a 504 plan or request for evaluation from the child study team
This point below is important*
*This example is from NJ state, usually states are very similar in their wording and guidelines, but not always so you must get your own state’s guidelines.
Don’t forget your school teams are made of individuals who are human beings. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we don’t have a complete understanding of guidelines, resources, or capabilities.
You may hear statements like:
“We have never done that”
“We don’t have a way to do that”
“We cannot afford to do that”
So, remember to go to your state’s intervention guidelines if you need to challenge any of these statements.
Part of the problem with school avoidance is that many schools have not been trained or educated about school avoidance.
For this reason, parents also have to take on the role of educator. It is in our kid’s best interest to do this.
You may be at your wit’s end dealing with your child’s emotional needs and the disruption their school avoidance generates. So, taking on the role of educator may seem daunting to you.
Don’t let your mind start wandering here; we have most of the information you need on this website.
To make it easier, we provide you with printable fact sheets and intervention road maps that you can share with your school.
Unfortunately only a small percentage of school professionals, therapists, educational advocates and policy makers understand school avoidance best practices. So, you must become the expert to ensure your child is getting:
The time passing slowly without progress is the worst feeling. It wouldn’t have taken five years of suffering and uncertainty if I had this expert guidance during my son’s school avoidance. We would have saved $29,000 in lawyer fees and $69,000 for private schools.