Updated: Jan 9
It’s time to move! How exciting! If you’re like most expat parents, the first thing on your mind is finding the right school for your children. And, if one of your children has special needs you may be experiencing an added layer of worry.
If this sounds like your situation, you may be considering working with an educational consultant who specializes in supporting families with children with special needs. Investing in a specialist to assist is an investment that can make your family’s transition markedly better. Even if you have decided to utilize a consultant’s expert advice, the process of using an educational consultant can be unclear and thus overwhelming.
There are variations to the consultation relationship and process , but it can be helpful and maximize success to better understand the steps of a typical consultation program.
The first step in the process of using a special needs consultant is an online or in person conversation. This conversation typically covers identifying client needs and how the consultant can be of assistance.
Sign a contract and confidentiality forms
After the consultant has proposed acceptable services and both client and consultant have agreed on terms, the client signs a contract and forms that allows the consultant to speak to the child’s teachers and service providers. This confidentiality form also allows the consultant to speak with potential schools if that is part of your service contract. It is also common that the consultant requires advanced payment. This protects online consultants from clients who do not pay.
During the time of service, in my practice, I collect all supporting documentation (i.e. ...IEP, testing reports) on the students needs, interview 3 to 4 previous teachers and service providers, and interview potential schooling options. This consolidation of information is essential during the application process enabling the prospective school to assess the exact needs of the student and make a realistic decision regarding their ability to successfully serve the needs of the child.
There should always been consistent feedback from the consultant so that the client understands where they are at in the process and feels comfortable. If you are not getting sufficient feedback, it is OK to tell the consultant how often you would like an email.
Client receives school feedback
After potential schools are identified, the parent will need to apply to the school directly. If desired, the consultant can set up school tours and even accompany the client if geographic limitations do not exist. It is very atypical for consultants to apply for school placements. This must be done directly between the parents and the school, although there are many ways the consultant can support the family through this process. The consultant can help generate important questions to ask and be answered during the school visit, and then debrief with the client after the visit.
End of service
Typically, the consultant service relationship is complete after the student has been accepted at a school. However, the client should get a follow up email from the consultant asking how the beginning of the school year is going. It is not unheard of for their to be a further contract created if the family needs any additional assistance.
Although every consultation process takes on its own nuances, getting a general idea of the process can be helpful. Some places in the world see educational consultants as commonplace, where it is unusual in others. Wherever you are located or relocating to, there are services that you can access to help create a smooth school transition for your child.
April Remfrey is an American special needs consultant living and loving life in Switzerland. April helps globally mobile families as they search for the best school for their child with special needs. www.remfreyeducationalconsulting.com