Happy end of school year, SeekFreaks!
I hope each of you are able to take some time to unwind, regroup and reflect…if not for an actual vacation maybe a stay-cation? Here are some reflection questions for you to ponder and then some excellent advocacy resources from APTA, AOTA and ASHA. There are so many issues on the move right now (Educational legislation reauthorization, American Health Care Act, Medicaid/Medicare reorganization), there is truly not a moment to lose!! I wrap up this post with an overview of the IDEA website, which was JUST re-released: https://sites.ed.gov/osers/2017/04/new-idea-gov-2017-website/
Now, close your eyes, take a breath and reflect on this 2016-2017 school year:
- What did I do well this school year?
- What professional goal did I set? What progress did I make on it? What slowed my progress? What do I need to get moving forward? Is it worth it to continue work on this goal?
- How individualized were my assessments/evaluations? Service delivery decisions- dosing, frequency, duration, least restrictive environment? Interventions?
- For decisions and recommendations, did I rely more on clinical reasoning? Data? Experience?
- With what type of student do I work best?
- What type of student is most challenging for me/my practice? What is needed to deepen my capacity? A mentor? Professional development? Focused effort?
- With which school team do I do my best work? Why? Can I employ anything with other teams that would improve my effectiveness?
- What professional goal should I set for next year? What supports do I need to put in place to succeed? Is this goal sufficiently small and focused to actually achieve it?
- What disappointed me this school year? Can I change it? Can I mitigate it? What strategies should I employ?
- What, happily, surprised me this school year?
- Who paid me a compliment that I should remember? Who was great to work with this year? Who should I write a thank you note or leave a voice mail to make certain they know how big a difference they made for me/in my work?
- What did I accomplish or contribute to that made me proud?
While no one needs a summer project (besides advancing our napping skills!), this is a critical time for many legislative priorities that we need to influence! Pick one that resonates with you and use the resources below to follow up. Your effort and passion applied can make a difference now and for the future of our students:
- We all need to work immediately to ensure our representatives fully understand the value and investment in the future that IDEA represents.
- If focus is moving to charter schools, how will our students with disability be educated? Who can we ask about this? How can we get our Representatives and Senators thinking about this? This is not only for federal Congress, but our State Legislators as well!!
- As Medicare and Medicaid may be moving to block grants or other funding models, it is critical that we who understand what is at stake for our children, take action.
- What specific examples of student progress can we provide to policy makers and legislators to illustrate the profound impact an individualized special education and related services can have on a student’s future? Potential as a wage-earner? Mitigate the life-long services that are required?
- Can we run some numbers to demonstrate to our state’s Medicaid officials and legislators that investing in early intervention, appropriate durable medical equipment or augmentative communication devices can SAVE public expenditures in the long run? Advocate for reimbursement policies that make sense (paying for more than one item with wheels, headrests for transportation, etc.)
It is not clear what the future holds for any of these issues. However, it is very important that we each act now, while change is possible. Can telling your Senator or Representative about how Medicaid funds are used to provide needed services to children in underserved areas convince her/him to carve public schools out of the Medicaid block grant? Maybe, maybe not, but we have to try!
APTA advocacy resources
- Download the APTA Action App= The APTA Action app is a powerful grassroots tool available for iPhone and Android. It allows individuals to email their legislators, donate to the PT-PAC, look up talking points for priority issues, and more.
- APTA Physical Therapy Grassroots Toolkit= http://www.apta.org/TakeAction/Toolkit/
- To check for healthcare reform updates= http://www.apta.org/healthcarereform/
- To post status updates or report issues from your area- http://www.apta.org/HealthCareReform/FeedbackForm/
- Federal Issues= http://www.apta.org/FederalIssues/
- State Issues= http://www.apta.org/StateAdvocacy/
- Reimbursement resources= http://pediatricapta.org/members/reimbursement/
- Medicaid resources= http://www.apta.org/Payment/Medicaid/
- Pediatric PT & Medicaid Advocacy Agenda= http://pediatricapta.org/members/reimbursement/SoP-Advocacy-Agenda.pdf
ASHA advocacy resources
- Check out a listing of bills ASHA is tracking, trending issues and key issues= http://takeaction.asha.org/action?3
- State by state issues at a click and contact information= http://www.asha.org/advocacy/state/
- Resources to advocate for school funding & improved salary= http://www.asha.org/advocacy/schoolfundadv/
AOTA advocacy resources
- Federal Affairs= https://www.aota.org/advocacy-policy/federal-reg-affairs.aspx?_ga=2.251003330.590496044.1496632025-617922629.1496632025
- State Policy Issues= https://www.aota.org/Advocacy-Policy/State-Policy.aspx
- Health Care Reform Implementation= https://www.aota.org/Advocacy-Policy/Health-Care-Reform.aspx
- Federal News & Legislative Updates= https://www.aota.org/Advocacy-Policy/Congressional-Affairs/Legislative-Issues-Update/2017.aspx
- Legislative Alerts and Updates= http://capwiz.com/aota/issues/?style=D&
In the first weeks of Secretary DeVos’ appointment, many were concerned (including me!) when idea.ed.gov went off-line (it is currently back up and it is anticipated that it will remain so for a limited time). According to the Department of Education (DoE), technical problems caused the outage. The DoE took this opportunity to overhaul the site, which is now live= https://sites.ed.gov/idea/
The DoE is seeking feedback from all stakeholders, which it intends to incorporate over the coming months. Here are some of the features the DoE would like to highlight:
- Improved site design and navigation
- Expanded search options (both statute and regulation)
- Enhanced content, the site now includes:
- Resources for specific audiences, including parents/families, educators/service providers and grantees
- Language support page for Spanish-speaking constituents and DoE language assistance offered for over 170 languages= https://sites.ed.gov/idea/language-support/
- Check it out, SeekFreaks, let DoE know what you think! https://sites.ed.gov/osers/2017/04/new-idea-gov-2017-website/
Setting a high expectation=I would love to see each SeekFreak use the comment box to either:
- Reflect on your 2016-17 school year practice or
- Set out your advocacy effort.
- Be brave, share it!!