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niccig
09-02-2016, 01:21 PM
I work in schools as a SLP. My state has a recommended caseload cap of 55 students, recommended, not compulsory - I'm currently over that and working with supervisors to reassign some students. Some states have a higher caseload cap of 60 or 80, and some states have no maximum limit and I know some SLPs have 100+ students!! Between all the IEP meetings, evaluations, paperwork, and tx sessions, there isn't much if any time to plan and prep for therapy and therapy group sizes get bigger to fit everyone in. With students all with different goals and level of functioning, planning is essential to maximize every second the child is in therapy, as are smaller group sizes. I'm on a facebook group for school SLPs and consensus is that about 40-45 students is a doable caseload. Smaller caseload means more time spent on therapy planning, prepping and smaller groups. School SLPs are trying to negotiate with school districts and at the state level to get more manageable caseloads, but it's an uphill battle.

Just wondering if any parents know the caseload their child's providers have and if they have or know of anyone that advocates for more providers. We all want smaller class numbers knowing there will be more effective teaching if less children in the class and more time for our child. That's the same for special education services - SLP, OT, PT, Resource Room teachers. Parents' voices are louder and listened to more than school staff.

LBW
09-02-2016, 04:32 PM
No, I've never known the caseloads of any of DS2's providers. I did send an email once when one of two district behaviorists left and wasn't being replaced. Three years later, the district still has a single behaviorist. I'm in NJ.

annex
09-02-2016, 08:01 PM
I'm on my district's PAC for special education, and I agree the answer is generally "no", parents are rarely aware of this issue. Our PAC group encourages parents to get copies of service logs, and then request compensatory service time if the logs show they aren't getting what's in the IEP and/or file state IDEA complaints if the district doesn't respond. That helps build the case for more hiring because usually service time shortages come up in situations where caseloads are too high. Our state though just gives wrist-slaps to district for IDEA violations, and then parents worry about retaliation, so it rarely happens. If I hear from a provider that they are overloaded/overwhelmed, I try to pass that info on to the district when we meet with the gen ed administrators - since they seem to have the ultimate control over whether we can hire more staff. I doubt it really makes a difference though. It can't hurt though I think for SLPs to voice their caseload concerns in front of parents. It may lead a small percentage to pursue it up the chain and/or maybe some day the state will impose harder sanctions that will make districts realize it's better for everyone to keep caseloads manageable.

I do think staff can somewhat make the case for there needing to be more hires. My son's SLP (who started doing more mis-matched groups this year, so I know must be overloaded) came to his annual IEP in May with a new articulation goal - and doubled his service time. I (and I think the rest of the IEP team) know his articulation is not holding him back, but we nodded and agreed to have her add this to his much more critical social communication goal. My other friend's kids on her caseload reported similar increases in IEP service time. (Our principal is beyond clueless about special ed, so she wouldn't have known to speak out.) I think the SLP is hoping if she can document she has all these IEPs requiring more service time than she alone can do even with crazy groupings, they have to hire another SLP?

wellyes
09-02-2016, 08:07 PM
I sympathize, but, this is definitely info I am not privy to for the (multiple) people who provide IEP related services to my kid. And honestly, I feel like my job is to advocate for her only. There is a SEPAC to deal with district issues. I believe that stands for Special Education Parent Advisory Committee. I have been invited to SEPAC meetings and presentations but haven't been yet.

niccig
09-02-2016, 10:18 PM
I sympathize, but, this is definitely info I am not privy to for the (multiple) people who provide IEP related services to my kid. And honestly, I feel like my job is to advocate for her only. There is a SEPAC to deal with district issues. I believe that stands for Special Education Parent Advisory Committee. I have been invited to SEPAC meetings and presentations but haven't been yet.

But you will be advocating for her if you ask about caseload sizes and if the district adheres to the state cap, if the state has one. Many parents want more service time and ask for that. Service time is not to be decided based on caseload or provider's schedule, but if it is warranted. If more time is agreed at the IEP meeting, and the provider has an overburdened scheduled, your child's extra time may be in a larger group or there's less prep for the provider to prepare for those extra sessions.

A colleague has a saying "It's quantity, not quality of therapy" - yes, child got seen, tick, but how effective was it? Providers are trying to be as effective as possible, but pulling therapy materials out at the last minute or winging it or managing a large group sessions, isn't always most effective therapy, but it's the reality of back to back sessions, IEP meetings, and the mountain of paperwork when you have 50+ students on your caseload.

Just putting it out there that parents do have a voice and if you're unhappy with progress or quality of services, you may want to ask about caseload size in your district for your child's providers.

niccig
09-02-2016, 10:25 PM
I'm on my district's PAC for special education, and I agree the answer is generally "no", parents are rarely aware of this issue. Our PAC group encourages parents to get copies of service logs, and then request compensatory service time if the logs show they aren't getting what's in the IEP and/or file state IDEA complaints if the district doesn't respond. That helps build the case for more hiring because usually service time shortages come up in situations where caseloads are too high. Our state though just gives wrist-slaps to district for IDEA violations, and then parents worry about retaliation, so it rarely happens. If I hear from a provider that they are overloaded/overwhelmed, I try to pass that info on to the district when we meet with the gen ed administrators - since they seem to have the ultimate control over whether we can hire more staff. I doubt it really makes a difference though. It can't hurt though I think for SLPs to voice their caseload concerns in front of parents. It may lead a small percentage to pursue it up the chain and/or maybe some day the state will impose harder sanctions that will make districts realize it's better for everyone to keep caseloads manageable.

I do think staff can somewhat make the case for there needing to be more hires. My son's SLP (who started doing more mis-matched groups this year, so I know must be overloaded) came to his annual IEP in May with a new articulation goal - and doubled his service time. I (and I think the rest of the IEP team) know his articulation is not holding him back, but we nodded and agreed to have her add this to his much more critical social communication goal. My other friend's kids on her caseload reported similar increases in IEP service time. (Our principal is beyond clueless about special ed, so she wouldn't have known to speak out.) I think the SLP is hoping if she can document she has all these IEPs requiring more service time than she alone can do even with crazy groupings, they have to hire another SLP?

Trust me, we complain very loudly about our caseloads and workloads. In some districts the union will also help. But reality is, parents voice are listened to more than our voices. A friend started at a new school, her speech room is the faculty restroom. She is to tell staff to use another bathroom when she is having a session. So far, school administration isn't listening to her request for appropriate work space. This is pretty common, the speech room is often a utility closet or part janitor storage space. My friend has been told by seasoned SLPs to find out which parent of her students will have most sway with the administration and invite them to a meeting in her "room", she'll get moved to a better space within no time after that meeting.

JustMe
09-05-2016, 01:02 PM
This is an interesting question, and one I have thought about. I do not know any of the special education providers caseload numbers, but honestly that information would not be as helpful. Since I am not sure of everything required for their job, etc, the numbers wouldn't mean much to me. Do I know they're too large? Yes, definitely. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with everything in the school system that I am familiar with these days.

Our district sends out surveys and I have mentioned the inability of special education providers to provide the services kids are entitled to and that, in most cases, I did not think this was due to the providers' fault but rather their time was too limited, etc. However, as a parent, I wouldn't feel comfortable advocating specifically for reduced caseloads. I feel that, at least with our district, there is a lot more than that broken and the administration (special ed specifically) needs to think differently about how things are done, change with the times, etc. I also feel that there must be a way to cut down on administrative costs when direct services are suffering so much, yet I know I am ignorant about those realities (what is really necessary administratively, etc). Also, you may not like this and it may contradict what I just said, but I also don't feel there is enough accountability for providers in our district. One provider kept my daughter out of special ed for some time (years) and now that this experience is behind us and I have connected with other parents it is clear she was doing that to protect her caseload size. I do understand the reality that you can only do so much, but I also know other providers would never do (repeatedly) what she did.

I don't think your example of advocating for a more appropriate room is the same as advocating for reduced class size. The room change can be authorized by someone in the school building, while caseload size is usually not dictated by the principal or anyone else in the building.

I do want to advocate in terms of the bigger picture of things (and just presented to our equity committee about my child and others not getting appropriate services), but I agree that to some degree, I would not feel confident that I know exactly what I should advocate for to improve things. As I said, in our district it is definitely more complicated that only caseload size. On the other hand, I can certainly see how it would have a positive impact --but I am not sure if they would take away from something else that would only create other issues if this was done. Now, I know parents are not hesitant to advocate for reduced class size...so I guess what I said does not make complete sense...

petesgirl
09-05-2016, 04:34 PM
Trust me, we complain very loudly about our caseloads and workloads. In some districts the union will also help. But reality is, parents voice are listened to more than our voices. A friend started at a new school, her speech room is the faculty restroom. She is to tell staff to use another bathroom when she is having a session. So far, school administration isn't listening to her request for appropriate work space. This is pretty common, the speech room is often a utility closet or part janitor storage space. My friend has been told by seasoned SLPs to find out which parent of her students will have most sway with the administration and invite them to a meeting in her "room", she'll get moved to a better space within no time after that meeting.

That is just ridiculous. Wow. Could she use the lunch room or at least go outside? Who wants to hang out in a restroom??

annex
09-05-2016, 04:44 PM
For the restroom situation, I would probably encourage the parents to file a OCR complaint (or threaten to) - that seems discriminatory to put special education students in a restroom to receive services when general education students get classroom and/or office spaces. Usually districts are more scared of OCR than their state IDEA complaint dept.

niccig
09-05-2016, 09:37 PM
Now, I know parents are not hesitant to advocate for reduced class size...so I guess what I said does not make complete sense...

I started this post to bring awareness to the issue of overburdened caseloads. Some states do have a caseload cap and some states do not. Even with a cap, it's not always enforced.

Here's a list by state http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/ASHA/Practice_Portal/Professional_Issues/Caseload_and_Workload/2015-2016-State-Caseload-Sizes-for-School-SLPs.pdf

Note all the states with no caseload cap. If you live in one of those states do not be surprised if you ask your child's provider and they say they see 75-100 students, majority of those get seen weekly, and with 100 students the group size is going to be 5-6 students. 100 students a week for therapy and paperwork for that session. Then it's all the IEP meetings for those 100 students, minimum 1 hour per meeting, so 100+ hours of meetings - and that's not counting the time to prep for the meeting - do assessment probe, write your part in the IEP, write goals. Then there's new students that get evaluated, those meetings and therapy sessions. Oh, and you have to re-evaluate students every 3 years and full evaluations are easily 5-8+ hours of assessment + report writing for every evaluation. Then there's progress reports 2-3 times per year as well. All that paperwork is federally mandated, so it gets precedence over prepping for therapy - the work that actually helps your child.

If you see the benefit in smaller class size for your child, then wouldn't smaller caseload for the SLP, OT, PT, Resource Teacher also benefit them. Some parents are on committees within their school district and can have a voice calling for a more manageable caseload. I know one parent at DS's school who is very vocal to me about how bad the special education department is, and she's very vocal about several issues in the school district. I asked her to put that voice towards asking about caseload size etc. She had no idea the providers saw so many students a week. She is the kind of parent that can advocate successfully for change or put fear of lawsuit into the school district.

Just putting it out there for parents to ask questions and support ALL the school staff for reduced numbers.

niccig
09-05-2016, 10:01 PM
For the restroom situation, I would probably encourage the parents to file a OCR complaint (or threaten to) - that seems discriminatory to put special education students in a restroom to receive services when general education students get classroom and/or office spaces. Usually districts are more scared of OCR than their state IDEA complaint dept.

I told her to ask the principal if the Gifted and Talented students use the restroom for their classes. It's ridiculous you have to even go to those lengths.

amandabea
09-05-2016, 11:50 PM
I started this post to bring awareness to the issue of overburdened caseloads. Some states do have a caseload cap and some states do not. Even with a cap, it's not always enforced.
...

Just putting it out there for parents to ask questions and support ALL the school staff for reduced numbers.

thank you for sharing and for doing what you do!

PZMommy
09-05-2016, 11:50 PM
Niccig, are you at one school, or are you shared between schools? I know the SLP at my school is 2 1/2 days at my school and 2 1/2 days at a different school. It is crazy! We get our OT even less than that. Plus they see students after school (I'm guessing from pre-k programs that qualify for services) I know some of my students are in groups of 5-6, and no one gets more than 20 minutes per week as there just isn't time. I had a student who was completely unintelligible last year, and that was the max he could get. He is actually in a special day class at a different school this year. It is sad because kids need more services, but there is no time for that. I'm in an area where parents do not seek private services, nor did they use early intervention prior to starting school. I feel most of my students make very little progress during the school year, due to the case load and how little time students get with the service providers. I've been at my school for 11 years, and we have never had a SLP stay for more than a year. We've even had some leave mid year. It is like starting over every year. It is a very broken system!!

gatorsmom
09-06-2016, 12:11 AM
I'm not sure I'm answering your question exactly, but I was very impressed with the Early Intervention program in our district in Minnesota. It offered a Birth- Kindergarten Early intervention. Ds1 was in the speech program from 22months until his 5th birthday. At 3yo he was no longer getting home visits and instead he was enrolled in the preschool program at a local public school which focuses on the kids in the Early Intervention programs. At one point while we lived there, there was something being voted on which could negatively affect the level of services they provide. The teachers and therapists at that school started handing out flyers and buttons several weeks before asking parents to vote down the new proposal. The day before and day of the vote teachers and parents were holding signs around the school asking parents to get out there and vote. It worked and the proposal was voted down. I remember at the time that our therapist said that most parents didn't know how badly their program could have been affected or how deeply services would have to be cut if the vote had passed. I am certainly glad they made us aware of it. Dh and I made a point of voting.

niccig
09-06-2016, 12:51 AM
Niccig, are you at one school, or are you shared between schools? I know the SLP at my school is 2 1/2 days at my school and 2 1/2 days at a different school. It is crazy! We get our OT even less than that. Plus they see students after school (I'm guessing from pre-k programs that qualify for services) I know some of my students are in groups of 5-6, and no one gets more than 20 minutes per week as there just isn't time. I had a student who was completely unintelligible last year, and that was the max he could get. He is actually in a special day class at a different school this year. It is sad because kids need more services, but there is no time for that. I'm in an area where parents do not seek private services, nor did they use early intervention prior to starting school. I feel most of my students make very little progress during the school year, due to the case load and how little time students get with the service providers. I've been at my school for 11 years, and we have never had a SLP stay for more than a year. We've even had some leave mid year. It is like starting over every year. It is a very broken system!!

I have 4 sites. 3 are at once location (childcare, TK-1 and 2-5) but all have different administrators, staff. I don't mind having 3 there, as I can walk across the road as needed to see someone, do screenings. I had a smaller 4th site last year and got a bigger site this year. My main school enrollment increased so I'm now 10 kids over the state caseload cap and talking with supervisors, but don't expect to get it adjusted for a couple more weeks - as district employee they do need to keep me close to maximum. If I was contract staff, then they don't keep you to the cap. Contract staff also get moved around more often, and will be moved if the district gets an employee they can put at that school (District hires throughout the year). We do get to have a say if we want to stay at our school (don't always get to do so though). To keep the SLP, give them a room that they don't have to share and have teachers/admin be flexible. My new site principal insists on me being there on a Wednesday, but that's my meeting day at my main schools. So I have to alternate - one week I'm at new school on Wednesday and main school on Thursday, then I have to switch the next week - it's a huge PITA to schedule all my therapy sessions with alternating days, so I won't ask to return next year. Shame as the caseload is super easy. My main school is more involved caseload, but I have my own room (1/2 a classroom), principal will buy me materials, teachers are very flexible and understand I have to change session times sometimes, I have great SDC teachers and aides, 2 aides translate for me anytime I need it etc. It's a further drive than I want, but willing to do it for the work situation.

We do see private preschools either before school or after school - we need to see anyone over 3 yo with IEP. Parents must bring them to us at our school if there over 3 and not in a district preschool program. We're getting more and more unintelligible preschoolers and K students. I think it's because the state cut early intervention several years back and it's very difficult to get EI services or parents don't know how to access services or move and can't keep up with services. There's also research into affect of devices on speech and language - not enough research yet, but many SLPs feel it is negatively impacting speech and language development. I saw a family at a restaurant last night try to engage maybe a 2- 2.5 year old with kids menu/coloring last night, but she was fussy about it and the phone came out and no one spoke to her again for most of the meal. I see younger siblings of my students being pushed in double stroller as walk to school and each child has a device and no one talks to them during the walk. Sigh. You learn speech and language through interacting with a person. I'm always going to stay busy.

I can't complain as my OT friend has 19 schools. Yes 19!!! Can you imagine how much time she's driving. And my situation is better than many other school districts. I don't have 100 students I'm expected to see, I don't have to do lunch duty/bus duty, or expected to go to teacher professional development meetings that have nothing to do with me. It could be a lot worse, I could be a lot busier and have less time to do the work in.

georgiegirl
09-06-2016, 01:05 AM
I don't see how complaining would change anything. Schools just don't have enough resources. Reducing your caseload means some kids don't get seen (unless the school/district hired more SLPs). Complaining about class size also does nothing. My sister was a SLP in public schools in Southern California before having kids. And my stepmom is in the business as a lawyer representing parents/kids. Getting what you want/need means someone else doesn't get what they want/need. There's no way to win.

niccig
09-06-2016, 02:00 AM
(unless the school/district hired more SLPs).
That's the key. School districts in states that don't have a cap, can decide to NOT hire more staff and just keep piling more kids onto the caseload. Many school SLPs bill Medicaid for many of their students - the school is getting money from the SLP's work. My state has a cap and my district does stick to it, so I'm in a better situation than many.

And not complaining means nothing gets changed. Like a said upthread, school SLPs are making noise to their district, to their state associations and licensing board and to the national association. Change though often happens when parents say they've had enough too.

annex
09-06-2016, 12:24 PM
From an IEP compliance/ethics point of view for these high caseload situations, when a SLP updates the IEP annually and has all this data that shows the student isn't making progress towards goals - isn't best practice to say this student needs more service time to meet the goals?? But when you look at your caseload creeping up, isn't your only choice is to offer less service time in order to stay in compliance? I'm curious how that plays out from a SLP point of view in terms of the ethics...

Also parents really sit in your IEPs and agree to less service time when their student is NOT making progress??? I always fought for more when my student was struggling - less when they were clearing out IEP goals in just a few months - but I'm guessing you don't see that happening from the parent side? I never felt I had a leg to stand on about in what setting the service was delivered in (push in, pull out, group, individual) because that isn't something you can write into IEPs generally...

niccig
09-06-2016, 11:31 PM
From an IEP compliance/ethics point of view for these high caseload situations, when a SLP updates the IEP annually and has all this data that shows the student isn't making progress towards goals - isn't best practice to say this student needs more service time to meet the goals?? But when you look at your caseload creeping up, isn't your only choice is to offer less service time in order to stay in compliance? I'm curious how that plays out from a SLP point of view in terms of the ethics...

Also parents really sit in your IEPs and agree to less service time when their student is NOT making progress??? I always fought for more when my student was struggling - less when they were clearing out IEP goals in just a few months - but I'm guessing you don't see that happening from the parent side? I never felt I had a leg to stand on about in what setting the service was delivered in (push in, pull out, group, individual) because that isn't something you can write into IEPs generally...

it's unethical to factor in your caseload/schedule when determining service team. When we're considering service team we need to consider minimum amount of time to make progress on goals. Why minimum? Because the student is missing classroom instruction to be in speech therapy. It's different for a private SLP, they can say 2-3 hours or even more per week and the child is missing out on after school activities or downtime at home. 2-3 hours at school is a LOT of classroom time the child is missing out on. So we have a discussion about will the benefit of extra pull out time outweigh the negative of less classroom time. It's a balancing act. I have one parent that is a teacher at my school, and she decreased amount of resource room time as between resource and speech, her daughter would be out of the classroom 30 minutes every day and 2 days it would be an hour - and it's not just 30 minutes, that's the session, it's the 5-10 minutes added on when student comes back into the room and has to get resettled. Then they have to catch up on what they missed. This parent knows this as she sees it from the teacher side. My DS missed math every Monday for orchestra lessons, turns out that was the time the teacher introduced new math concepts. DS struggled with math last year and I didn't know he missing the math explanation every week.

niccig
09-07-2016, 12:08 AM
double post

teresah00
09-07-2016, 03:41 PM
Just got off the phone w DS's SLP. Our state says they can have up to 65 students. She has 51, the other SLP is around the same. If i was aware of an issue I would advocate for them. Each therapist has a room they work in, plus a shared office.

PZMommy
09-09-2016, 09:30 AM
I was sitting next to our SLP in the lunchroom yesterday, so I asked her about this. She has a limit of 55 students, but has a caseload of 60 students, plus her pre-k students, plus the students that get "speech improvement" classes, and she has a handful more waiting for a full assessment, because their pre screening assessment showed they needed services. She said she has told her supervisor about his, but so far not much can be done. I believe my district is still short on SLPs.

HannaAddict
09-09-2016, 01:55 PM
They need more funding. Contact legislators as well as schools. It really comes down to money.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

niccig
09-13-2016, 08:33 PM
I was sitting next to our SLP in the lunchroom yesterday, so I asked her about this. She has a limit of 55 students, but has a caseload of 60 students, plus her pre-k students, plus the students that get "speech improvement" classes, and she has a handful more waiting for a full assessment, because their pre screening assessment showed they needed services. She said she has told her supervisor about his, but so far not much can be done. I believe my district is still short on SLPs.

60 is not over enough. If you're a few over, they don't do anything other than ask if anyone can be dismissed, but you need to assess for dismissal and when you have too many students, you don't have time to assess. I'm at 65 and there's other SLPs at 70+. "Speech Improvement" is our RTI for students, and they're not counted in your numbers as you don't document/have IEP meetings and it's for mild articulation errors. I had 10 last year, this year I haven't picked up anyone up yet, as no time to screen them. Some students I had in Speech Improvement last year I need to move over to an IEP. We heard at our monthly meeting that a bunch of SLPs got moved to preschool team, but that's left all the school SLPs short staffed. They need to figure something out. One of our SLPs is a union rep and said she'll be raising this with administration. We can volunteer to go over max caseload and get paid extra, but for those of us that are over without volunteering, we aren't getting any extra pay for the extra work.