Is An Educational Consultant?
IS AN INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANT?
consultants are professionals who assist students and families
with educational decision making," according to the Independent
Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Directory. Educational
consultants who are "independent" avoid entanglements,
financial or otherwise, with schools or programs that might influence
their recommendations to parents and children. Members of the IECA
organization agree to follow "Principles of Good Practice,"
which includes the statement: "A consultant does not accept
any compensation from educational institutions for placement of
CAN ONE HELP ME?
provide experience, knowledge and objectivity to help formulate
a placement decision during a time that is confusing and stressful
for any parent. Since educational consultants have extensive personal
knowledge of a wide variety of schools and programs, they know
the important criteria and common mistakes to avoid when making
recommendations for placement. Consultants utilize this knowledge
and experience when helping parents to carefully develop a strategy
to intervene with their struggling child.
IT WORTH THE COST?
Purpose schools and programs are very expensive. An educational
consultant who is experienced and competent can increase the odds
that the first choice of a school or program will be the right
choice, helping to avoid additional failures for the child. Parents
who work with qualified educational consultants thus reduce the
possibility of losing time and money as a result of an inappropriate
DO I CHOOSE A CONSULTANT?
the most important consideration when selecting an educational
consultant is the level of trust and comfort you feel with that
person. Each year Woodbury Reports conducts a survey that includes
a list of educational consultants who work with families seeking
to place their child in a Special Needs school or program. One
of the results of our analysis is a list of consultants who have
good reputations according to special needs schools and programs
and other consultants. The IECA organization also indicates which
consultants are qualified to work with Special Needs schools and
programs. Selecting from either or both of these lists will insure
that the educational consultant you choose will have proven a basic
competence in this area.
FEES ARE INVOLVED?
Like any profession,
fees vary widely. The consultants listed in my Directory on the
basis of their experience and good reputations with special needs
programs and other consultants, use one of three kinds of fee structures.
one of the consulting firms that calculate consultation fees
on an hourly basis. Consultants who use this fee structure
charge for the time actually spent serving the parent and child.
They provide only those services the parents require for their
situation, which can include: interviewing the child, interviewing
the parents and relevant professionals, arranging for testing,
advising which schools are most appropriate for the child,
supporting the placement application to the school or program,
and helping the parent if an additional emergency placement
is necessary. Some consultants live in remote areas and work
with the parents almost exclusively by telephone, fax and e-mail.
These consultants frequently visit the children they have helped
place in schools or programs, but usually don't charge for
that unless the parent has specifically asked for the visit.
There usually is a minimum fee, sometimes based on a minimum
number of hours, usually ranging below one thousand dollars.
If the consultation time exceeds the minimum agreed upon hours,
subsequent charges are based on an hourly rate.
is the most common fee arrangement, which includes all the services
that might be needed when making a placement decision. The annual
contract includes: interviewing the child, interviewing the parents
and appropriate professionals, arranging for testing, advising
which schools are most appropriate for the child, supporting
the placement application to the school or program, and helping
the parent if an emergency placement is necessary. It often includes
staying in regular touch with the parent throughout that year
to communicate about their child's progress and the child is
visited at least once during the year that he or she is in the
school or program. It is an all- inclusive annual contract, but
if the time required becomes far more than normal, the consultant
sometimes will negotiate an additional fee. The fees for annual
contracts range above two thousand dollars.
are a few educational consultants who will travel to the family's
home anywhere in the country. They will work with the family
in the home environment to acquire the additional information
needed to help them resolve the issues or problems, often then
making a residential placement recommendation. To my knowledge,
these consultants also use an annual contract that includes the
same services other consultants provide, with the additional
advantage of working with the family in their home environment.
Their fees are above three thousand five hundred dollars, plus
Certified Educational Planner