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Rochelle’s Special Education Tips
Home and Hospital-I Called the Doctor and the Doctor Said
As the new school year begins, so too begins the deluge of Home and Hospital applications. If the student on Home and Hospital has an IEP or a 504 Plan, be sure to hold an IEP/504 meeting to review and amend the document. Particularly with an IEP, you do not want the IEP to reflect services the child cannot receive or does not need in the home. There may also be goals and objectives that are not workable at home. The hours of service may change. In fact, the majority of the document may change. Then, when the student is able to return to school, hold another IEP meeting. You may end up reinstituting the old IEP or 504 Plan.
The most problematic Home and Hospital cases remain those involving children with emotional disturbance, particularly those with anxiety and school phobia. In each and every one of these cases, be sure to speak to the treating therapist on a regular basis. What is the plan of treatment? What is the plan to transition the student back to school? If the student does not have an IEP, hold an IEP team meeting to determine eligibility for special education and related services. Chances are that if a student has so much anxiety that the student cannot attend school, the student will meet the eligibility criteria for Emotional Disturbance. Also, children with IEPs are not supposed to be on Home and Hospital for emotional reasons longer than 60 days. You have to keep on top of these cases and not let time get away from you.
The Home and Hospital form should have a built-in consent statement with an accompanying signature line allowing you to speak to the treating therapist without obtaining additional consent. But if the parent directs you not to speak with the treating professional, or crosses out the approval language on the document, do not approve the Home and Hospital application. While the parent may have concerns relating to family privacy, there could also be something very dysfunctional going on in the home. Or maybe the therapist is not really in the picture. People have been known to include misinformation in Home and Hospital forms, and even to forge signatures of therapists. When you are unable to convince the parent to allow you to communicate, which means you will not approve the Home and Hospital application, you should strongly consider referring the parent to the authorities for allowing the child to be truant.
It is very disheartening when you come across therapists who allow children to stay home indefinitely based on the parent’s preference. There is typically a back story. It happens.