Society generally assumes that parents can raise their children as they see fit, but intervenes if the parents or caregivers do not have their children’s best interests in mind. This is the definition of child abuse and/or neglect – a parent’s or caregiver’s action or failure to act that resulted in a child being harmed. Apart from physical and psychological trauma, the experience of abuse or neglect impacts executive functioning and cognitive skills, potentially causing difficulties in learning. According to Blodgett and Lanigan (2018), elementary school students with adverse childhood experiences do not meet grade-level standards in school subjects. Educators have the training to monitor whether children can benefit fully from their educational opportunities and are also mandated reporters of child abuse or neglect (Crosson-Tower, 2003). However, they may lack the skills to recognize the students’ academic outcomes as such signs or report them properly. Hence, it is crucial to train educators to identify child abuse, neglect, and its educational outcomes. In this consultation, the consultee will be Charleston County School District, Charleston, SC (Elementary Schools K-5th grade), and identified clients would be elementary school teachers, faculty, and staff.
The model that will be used as a guiding framework for this consultation is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT rests on the assumption that adaptive and maladaptive behaviors alike are learned and maintained through their consequences (Bernard & Goodyear, 2019). Therefore, this approach pays particular attention to supervisees’ learning skills and strategies (Bernard & Goodyear, 2019). As such, CBT is a perfect fit for a consultation that aims to improve educators’ ability to identify possible signs of child maltreatment as well as their understanding of the links between child abuse and neglect and academic performance.
The consultation will be first reached via email to establish initial contact. Face-to-face meetings might also be necessary to establish a full mutual understanding regarding the goals and the process of the consultation.
Assessing and clarifying the issue will require thorough attention to several potentially problematic aspects of identifying possible signs of child maltreatment by educators in kindergarten and elementary school settings. First of all, educators may not have sufficient knowledge of the possible signs of child maltreatment, especially psychological ones (Weegar & Romano, 2019). In particular, they may miss or underestimate the links between experiences of child abuse and neglect and failure to meet academic standards. In such cases, consultation will address “stereotyped, inaccurate perceptions of a child that impeded the successful resolution of presenting problems” (Caplan et al., 1995, p. 24). Apart from that, the educators may lack the confidence necessary to report the perceived maltreatment signs even when they think they have identified them correctly. This tendency is likely to occur when a given educator does not feel supported by his or her educational institution (Bell & Singh, 2017). These are both valid reasons to train elementary school teachers, faculty, and staff about identifying and reporting child neglect and abuse.
The goals of this consultation revolve around improving the educators’ ability to detect and reports the possible signs of child maltreatment in their educational settings. As such, it will be a consultee-centered case consultation with an emphasis “upon the consultee, rather than upon the particular client” (Caplan, 1995, p. 12). As a result of attending this training, the employees will be able to pay attention to the students’ academic performance as potential maltreatment signs, acquire a broader knowledge of child abuse and neglect signs, and improve their confidence in reporting perceived occurrences. The signs may include behavior changes, problems with learning and concentration, a child being passive and withdrawn, a lack of physical contact between a child and a parent, and others (“Recognizing child abuse and neglect,” 2007). The clients’ progress in achieving these goals will be assessed and measured through homework reviews. Homework reviews are an essential component of CBT and will offer a better insight into the clients’ successes in implementing their new skills in identifying and reporting child mistreatment and abuse.
The major part of this training will be educating the clients about potential signs of child abuse and neglect as they may manifest in an educational setting. The consultation will put specific emphasis on those signs that may manifest in the students’ educational performance, such as the inability to meet grade-level standards. Training tools, such as Web-based resources designed specifically for school personnel as mandated reports of child abuse and neglect in South Carolina, will be a prominent part of the consultation (“Mandated reporters,” 2020). Since the targeted population is educators rather than children or parents, the main type of intervention to be implemented will be school-based educational programs aiming at better identification of child abuse and mistreatment cases. Educators’ willingness to report perceived maltreatment and confidence in doing so will be mainly assessed via homework reviews as described above.
The success of this training will be evaluated with the help of the aforementioned homework reviews with the clients. In the interims between the sessions, clients will have to record whether they witnessed possible maltreatment signs and reported them. They will evaluate, on a scale from 1 to 10, how sure they were about correctly identifying a possible maltreatment sign. This parameter is important, as educators may lack sufficient knowledge that would allow reasonably accurate identification of potential maltreatment signs (Weegar & Romano, 2019). Regardless of whether they have encountered any, they will also be asked to evaluate, on the same numerical scale, how sure they would be about reporting a given sign in their respective educational settings. This parameter is also crucial because educators may hesitate about reporting perceived maltreatment signs if they do not feel supported in their institution (Bell & Singh, 2017). The changes in the educators’ confidence in identifying and reporting perceived signs of child abuse and neglect will allow evaluating the outcome of the training.
When terminating the training, the consultant will discuss the data from the homework assessments to reflect on the clients’ progress and solidify the results. After the termination, participants will be asked to provide bimonthly confidential feedback in the course of a year as a follow-up. Clients will be assured of the confidentiality of any information they choose to share. Student privacy will also be secured, in accordance with the standards of Charleston County School District, Charleston, SC. Provided these requirements are fully met, there should be no pertinent ethical issues with this training.
Educational Therapy/Consultant Agreement
_________________________________, Educational Therapist/Consultant
Welcome to Summit Center. Education constitutes an inherent part of any person’s experience and is paramount to achieving success in life. Ensuring that the educational process occurs in safe environments that maximize each student’s potential without harming or sidestepping anyone. We believe that everyone deserves to have as good learning experience as possible without negative factors interfering in it and are willing and able to devise strategies that facilitate positive educational outcomes. Our primary role is to assist educators in creating and sustaining student-friendly environments in their educational institutions and ensuring that the students’ educational and emotional needs are met to provide the best and most effective educational experience.
We are ethically and legally bound to protect the confidentiality of our communications. We will only release information about our work to others with your written permission or in response to a court order. We strictly maintain the rules or the employee and student confidentiality standards of the institutions we work with. There are some situations in which we are legally obligated to break confidentiality in order to protect you or others from harm. If we are aware that a child or elderly or disabled person is being abused, we must make a report to the appropriate state agency. If a client is in imminent risk to him/herself or makes threats of imminent violence against another, we are required to take protective actions. These situations are quite rare in educational therapy and consulting practices. If such a situation occurs in our relationship, we will make every effort to discuss it with you before taking any action.
Summit Center professional staff consult with one another in order to provide the highest and most effective level of personal care. I give Summit Center professional staff permission to consult about my/our child’s needs when they feel it will be helpful to my/our child’s treatment goals.
Agreement for Educational Therapy/Consulting
We are looking forward to working with you as an Educational Therapist/Consultant and part of a team that includes our client, family, teachers, and other professionals. Please keep all scheduled appointments to ensure consistency. If cancellation is necessary, please give 24 hours notice. With the exception of workplace emergency or sudden illness, the regular fee will be charged if sessions are missed without cancellation.
The services to be provided by educational therapists and consultants are designed collaboratively with our client/s. Our educational therapy and consultant services are usually provided at Summit Center, but may also be provided by telephone or online. Fees are also charged for time spent on review of documents, assessment scoring, and report- writing, as well as advocacy and other communication and collaboration with teachers, counselors, and ancillary support providers. If asked to attend a meeting or provide services outside our office, fees will cover travel time and expense, as well as the actual meeting/session time. Educational therapists may have an additional charge for materials. Fees are ____________ /per hour plus expenses if relevant. Summit Center bills biweekly and uses credit card information filed with the office.
Clients are encouraged to call and briefly discuss concerns they may have regarding the challenges they face in their respective educational settings. Telephone or email messages will be returned within 24 hours. Good communication is an essential part of educational therapy and consultation. There is no charge for telephone calls of ten minutes or less or brief email correspondences with parents.
I /We agree to these terms:
Client Signature _____________________________________________ Date _____________________
Client Name Printed____________________________________________________________________
Provider Name Printed_________________________________________________________________ 1
Release Form, and Client Information
Release form: I grant permission for __________________________ to share information and consult professionally with other staff members at Summit Center. In addition, she has my/our permission to consult with the following allied professionals (please include contact information).
This release is effective for one year from the date signed, and is revocable at any time with your written notification.
Client Name (printed)___________________________
Bell, M.M., & Singh, M. E. (2017). Implementing a collaborative support model for educators reporting child maltreatment. Children & Schools, 39(1), 7-14.
Bernard, J. M., & Goodyear, R. K. (2019). Fundamentals of clinical supervision (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Blodgett, C., & Lanigan. J. D. (2018). The association between adverse childhood experience (ACE) and school success in elementary school children. School Psychology Quarterly, 33(1), 137–146.
Caplan, G. (1995). Types of mental health consultation. Journal of Educational & Psychological Consultation, 6(1), 7–21.
Caplan, G., Caplan, R. B., & Erchul, W. P. (1995). A contemporary view of mental health consultation: Comments on “Types of mental health consultation” by Gerald Caplan (1963). Journal of Educational & Psychological Consultation, 6(1), 23–30.
Crosson-Tower, C. (2003). The role of educators in preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2007). Recognizing child abuse and neglect: Signs and symptoms. Adobe PDF file. Web.
Mandated reporters. (2020). South Carolina Department of Social Services. Web.
Weegar, K., & Romano, E. (2019). Child maltreatment knowledge and responses among teachers: A training needs assessment. School Mental Health, 11, 741-753.