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May 16
Wrap it Up! | School-based Therapy

Gift-Wrapping-Guide-1447196647.jpgDenice Tucker, OTR
Manager, School-Based Therapy Services, Harris County Dept. of Education

Have you ever started a job in a school district and on the first day of work, you realize there are no student folders? No current medical referrals? No initial evaluation much less a current evaluation? No identifiable Plan of Care or IEP goals marked for your service?  No list of students with time/frequency and campus?  And, of course, no way to find the whereabouts of the previous therapist to get answers to these questions? Where do you start as a therapist new to the district, especially if you are the only OT or PT without benefit of a therapy team with memory of previous services? 

To make sure no one has to walk into the situation described above, the time to start planning for the end of the year in a school based job is NOW.  Even if you feel certain now that you will be returning in the fall, get your documentation in order for the upcoming school year. Life has a way of changing the best laid plans, and it may very well be someone else who must walk into your job in the fall.  
Use this quick checklist to help you organize and get prepared NOW for the upcoming year.
·     Do you have a student folder (sometimes called a “soft folder”) for each student receiving services?  Or, if your district keeps electronic files, is there an up-to-date “folder” for each student?
·    Does each folder include a copy of the student’s current evaluation, IEP goals/objectives and the related services page with time and frequency specified?
·    Have you included copies of your progress notes and attendance sheets in each student’s folder?
·    Is a copy of the current medical referral in each folder? If new medical referrals are needed, has the appropriate physician been sent the district’s form for completion over the summer?
·    If yours is the service responsible for updating the IEP’s in the state folder, have you updated them? (Note: This would be the case if your service has primary responsibility for implementation of the IEPs. If you are a collaborator and instruction is primary, the teacher would update the IEPs).
·    Have you made a list of first things to do in August to get started (check on students changing campuses, get student schedules, meet new teachers, etc.)?
·    Have you let district administration know where your updated student folders are stored over the summer?
Change happens! Making sure a working folder with current documentation is available for each student is also the right thing to do for the students you serve. Do your best to create a stress-less situation for the start of the new year -  it is an act of kindness to a new therapist who may find him or herself in a new school district position. Who knows -- it could be you!

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