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Posted: Dec 23, 2008 08:01

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By Randall Cook

In these tough economic roller coaster times, I take extra effort to consume information related to our field, as well as to emerging businesses. Recently I was listening to a radio personality speaking about these tough economic times and he stressed that the buyers or consumers in this economy will be more focused than ever on two things when parting with their hard earned money: value and values.

Those words really hit home for me since Core Solutions purpose is to create and support increased value between Schools and their parents. He continued to strongly underscore the importance of the value people place on who they do business with. He stated that it is more important than ever that people are confident that the person with whom they do business, or business in which they are investing, absolutely stand on their values.

Core Solutions continually receives inquiries from parents who have actively done their homework as they research various placement options. I have noticed in recent weeks that the conversation has changed, the tone has changed and the questions have changed. With credit tightening, and in some cases ceasing to exist, there is no doubt we are seeing the trickle down effects. Parents realize they are taking a gamble, more now then maybe ever. A typical question I hear over and over is, "If my child gets kicked out of one School, or we place him/her and then regret our decision and want to then change Schools, what are the chances of obtaining a second loan?"

Out of sincere respect for the difficult decisions their family is facing, my response has been direct and honest: they better get it right the first time. And they need to increase their odds of doing that. I recommend choosing a School/group that is based strictly on value and values. Here are some of my indicators for helping them evaluate their decision:

  • Avoid run-of-the-mill Schools that only offer the basics, i.e., infrequent Facility visits and phone calls home. These Schools do not appear committed to partnering with the family.

  • Find out the details of the School's zero tolerance policy.

  • Pay attention to the School's screening process. How thorough is it? What steps do they take in preparing for your child's arrival? Or does it feel like a come-one, come-all process?

  • Be wary of 'cherry-picked' parent references only. In contrast, most Schools with which we work offer the prospective parents an opportunity to login and communicate with other currently enrolled and even Alumni parents. They encourage them to post any questions, concerns or stories before investing even one dollar. Aside from an on-site visit prior to placement, this is the most transparent admission process they'll find. The School is able to showcase its results via its families and there's no cost incurred to the parent, nor a need for travel. A win-win for all concerned.

  • How often can you participate in your child's program? Because of tight monies, the vast majority of families cannot afford to travel to their child's School at their leisure. Right now, many parents find they have to hold off on visits and Family Seminars at the School. So what's the alternative? Let them participate, gain support, contribute and feel part of the process whenever they would like by having an online community that is free to them. Dollars are tight, and the more costs required for them to participate weakens the possibility of their child completing graduation.

  • Determine the School's financial strength. There have been numerous School closures, and likely more to come. How many empty beds do they have? What has been their consistent census?

Going forward, Schools will continue to be more closely scrutinized. With more School closures, parents and Educational Consultants will become more determined to discover those that provide true and unique value in their services. I'm convinced there will be more demands for transparency and keeping the parents better informed and more involved in the family healing and solutions process. Ultimately, this will create greater value and quality across the board.

Core Solutions' value stems from the transparency and support we create for our Schools with their individualized private, secure and online parent communities. Schools that stand by their values and create greater value for their families are the ones that will survive these tight times. Their high standards will articulate to parents and professionals that they do not cut corners when it comes to standing on their values. The Schools that can separate themselves from the pack through exceptional services, transparency and competition will be able to whether this storm.

About the Author: Randall Cook of San Diego, CA, runs Core Solutions, a business which administers several bulletin board systems in a "Family Friendly" manner. A program graduate himself, he administers the Struggling Teens parent support board as well as boards for numerous Programs, Schools and Professional Organizations. For more information on setting up a board for family support, visit his web site at or contact him at by phone at

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