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Opinion & Essays - May, 2002 Issue #93 

What Placement is Right for My Child &
Why Should I Use an Educational Consultant?

Thomas E. Carter M.I.T. / Ph.D.
Behavioral Therapist
Shamrock Educational Academy
Newman Lake, WA, (509) 226-3662

One of the scariest decisions a parent can make is the decision to place their child in a boarding school/residential program away from the family. By the time this decision takes place, the family is often at its wits end. What happens next? The family moves as expeditiously as possible to get help for the child, thus looking at different options including boarding schools, residential placements, therapeutic schools and programs.

What do parents find out during this process? They find out, after being totally gut wrenching honest and divulging everything that they know about their child to the admissions professionals, they learn that the program does not deal with children who are facing the issues that they described. Moving on to the next program, they face the same scenario. Finally after they have talked with five different admissions counselors, they come up with a stress induced exasperated solution. They gather all the information that has disqualified their child from the previous programs and omit that information when interviewing the next program, which then enrolls their child. A common theme when speaking with parents has been that the parents have learned that omitting pertinent information regarding their child is not ideal, but they felt that it was their last option for finding help for their childís issues.

Now ask yourself, if you were going to a doctor for cancer treatment and that particular doctor did not treat cancer patients nor did the next ten doctors that you consulted with, would you omit the cancer information and tell the next doctor that you just donít feel good? No you wouldnít! You would go to as many different doctors as possible to find a doctor who could treat your cancer properly.

Now from a programís perspective, wouldnít you want to know the entire story? Yes you would, because this is how admissions counselors are able to determine if they can or cannot help your child. What do you do? The answer is easy, donít get stressed out and donít hold back pertinent information relating to your childís best interest. The most logical thing to do would be to work with an educational consultant who can narrow the search down for you, the stressed out exasperated parents, to a few placements that will meet your childís needs. Let the educational consultant handle the stress of this process. Believe me they can handle it.

Why not choose the first placement that the consultant picks and why do they often pick more than one placement for you to go and see? Are they getting kickbacks? No, they know that placements and parents must match just as placements and the child must match. It is a marriage in the best interest of your child. The consultants have already done the legwork and found the programs that will deal with the issues your child is experiencing, and the parentís responsibility is to determine which program provides them with a feeling of trust and comfort.

How does the educational consultant know that this is the right placement, environment, and safe place for your child? When a consultant refers a child to a particular placement, that referral and its success represent the educational consultant. Consultants put in many hours each year talking, visiting, and working with placements to make sure that they can match students with the right program. This is not a guessing game, or a seemingly random choice that parents at times feel they are faced with. The consultantís recommendation represents a combination of the information that you, the parent, have given them together with the time and knowledge that they have already committed to become the professional in this specialized field. Now this may sound like a commercial for educational consultants, originating from an educational consultant, but this is as far from the truth as possible. This information is coming from a director of a program who wants to emphasize how important it is to match parents, students and programs to find success. It is understandable that a program is entitled to the facts regarding a potential student, while it is also understandable when parents omit information when placing a child independently. As a director of a program, I strongly recommend that it is in the best interest of all parties that a child is placed in the right program.

Please consider working with an educational consultant, listening to them and letting them recommend possible placements for your child. As we all know, a medical condition like cancer needs proper treatment to get better and so does behavior. A common problem is that people believe that the behavior will go away in time if they ignore that it exists. Denial is similar to ďDe NileĒ river in Africa, in that if it is left alone to choose its own direction, it will eventually totally rage out of control.

I encourage parents who are experiencing behavioral problems with their child to not wait too long to address the problem at hand. There is an excellent network of professionals available to help you determine the needs of your individual child, and a highly effective starting point is to speak with an educational consultant.

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