While every child deserves a supportive learning environment in which to reach his or her intellectual, physical, social, and emotional potential, not every child is able to succeed in the standard school setting. This may stem from a combination of mental and emotional health issues and challenges within the family. While we strive to maintain students in their primary school placement, some students may require a setting targeted more specifically toward meeting the student’s combination of treatment and academic needs. The Therapeutic Classroom is intended to meet this combination of treatment and academic needs with the goal of each student returning successfully to the primary school placement.
The Therapeutic Classroom is a full day program for students in Kindergarten through sixth grade that provides each student with the opportunity to access a combination of educational and mental health services tailored to meet the student’s needs. Students will participate in academic and therapeutic services throughout the day, including individual therapy, group therapy, activity and occupational therapy, academic class work, and family meetings. The frequency and type of therapy will be tailored to the needs of the student and family. Services will be provided by staff experienced in mental health and academic services.
Potential students for the Therapeutic Classroom will be referred by the child’s school administrators to the Therapeutic Classroom Program Coordinator. It is expected that the school staff and student referred to the Therapeutic Classroom will have exhausted accommodation efforts from the referring school. This will be discussed with the referring school administration following the referral. It is also expected that the parents or guardians of the child will have been contacted and given their permission to pursue the referral. Further evaluation of the student will occur after review of the initial referral information. This may include review of school records, observation of the student in the classroom environment, consultation with other teachers and providers, and review of any Individual Education Program (IEP) or other behavioral plan. A meeting with school providers and parents to discuss the services of the Therapeutic Classroom will then occur. If the student is deemed appropriate for the Therapeutic Classroom, the student and family will be provided details on classroom rules and expectations, as well as expectations for the parents regarding participation in meetings and services.
Procedures for Referral to the Therapeutic Classroom
Step 1 – A potential referral to the therapeutic classroom is identified by the referring school.
A. The referring school exhausts other available resources to address the student’s needs within the referring school. This might include behavioral plans, adjusting requirements such as homework as appropriate, and consultation with external resources such as therapists, counselors, or physicians.
B. If Step 1A has been fulfilled, then the school administrator contacts the parents/guardians of the child to be referred to recommend the Therapeutic Classroom option. If the parents/caregivers are willing to pursue this option, then the Classroom Coordinator is contacted to discuss the referral.
C. Releases are obtained for the school and other involved professionals. The referral is reviewed to make sure all steps have been followed to this point and to evaluate the appropriateness of the referral. Additional evaluation of the child will occur, potentially including observation in the classroom if possible, consultation with parents, school personnel, and other professionals, and completion of appropriate evaluations (e.g. BASC, CBCL, TRF, other tests as appropriate). If a student appears inappropriate for the Therapeutic Classroom** alternative resources are discussed with possible recommendations for alternative treatment.
D. If all steps to this point indicate the child is an appropriate referral a meeting with school personnel, parents, and other professionals as appropriate occurs to discuss the structure of the Therapeutic Classroom, expectations of the program, and to plan an appropriate transition to the program to best meet the needs of the child, family, and school.
Step 2 – An orientation meeting with the child, family, and Therapeutic Classroom staff is held to explain expectations of family and child participation and details of participation in the Therapeutic Classroom.
A. The Therapeutic Classroom program is designed to comprehensively address the needs of the student and family. As such, participation by parents/guardians in regular family meetings regarding the functioning of the student in the school and home environments is expected. These meetings may occur once every one to two weeks as required to meet the needs of the child and family.
B. Class rules and expectations are reviewed. The child and family are expected to commit to these. Participation by the child in individual and group therapeutic activities throughout the week is expected.
C. The family and child sign a form indicating that they understand the Therapeutic Classroom expectations and commit to the program. Expectations regarding confidentiality are reviewed and a pledge of confidentiality is also signed.
D. A discussion of the transition into the program and any other needs of the child occurs.
Step 3 – The child transitions into the Therapeutic Classroom.
A. Transportation and any other questions regarding transition are resolved. The child arrives at the program and is introduced to the other students at this time. The child should have met most or all staff in the previous orientation meeting.
B. The child and family participate in treatment. Initial goals are revised and reviewed on a regular basis to evaluate progress in the program and adjustments to the goals are made as needed. All children will participate in the program full-time initially. Any transitions back to the referring school will be planned in a step wise fashion to increase the probability of success.
**Certain diagnoses and behaviors are not appropriate for referral to the Therapeutic Classroom. These include:
1. Developmental disorders such as those on the autism spectrum. Children experiencing these disorders would not be able to participate in and benefit from the social interaction and interventions offered.
2. Students identified as Intellectually Deficient (formerly Mental Retardation) are not appropriate for the Therapeutic Classroom.
3. High levels of physical aggression that would compromise the safety of the students and/or staff.
4. Active psychosis as this would also prevent the child from benefiting from the services offered.
5. Refusal to grant permission to attend on the part of the parents/caregivers. Additionally, participation by parents/caregivers in the family meetings is necessary to student progress and required for a student to enter the Therapeutic Classroom.
What to expect in the Therapeutic Classroom program
Children referred to the Therapeutic Classroom will participate in a comprehensive program to address academic and mental health needs. They will be expected to participate in individual and group therapy services as well as academic programs on a daily basis. Additionally, caregivers are expected to attend weekly family meetings to discuss student progress and address challenges that may be experienced in the home environment. Students will initially participate for the entire school day, with the Therapeutic Classroom following the same calendar as the Platteville Schools. As the child makes progress in improving their functioning within the school and home environments, the child will begin transitioning back to the home school environment in manageable steps, typically one class period at a time. This will be a joint decision among the Therapeutic Classroom staff, home school staff, caregivers, and the child. This step wise transition is meant to ensure that the child is truly ready to return to the home school environment and to ensure as much as possible that the transition is successful. Increased time in the home school will be dependent on the success of these initial steps. Consultation with the home school and caregivers will occur throughout the student’s placement and this transition process.
Many students admitted to the Therapeutic Classroom will either arrive with prescribed medications or be prescribed medications in the course of their treatment in the classroom. Medications will be monitored by medical staff on a weekly basis. Any administration of medications will be performed as prescribed. Any medications that need to be kept at the classroom will be kept in a locked location and monitored by the medical staff. Administration of any medication requires that a copy of the Medication Permission Form be on file as well as a current copy of the prescription. Administration of any over the counter medications requires a written permission note from the caregiver and provision of the medicine in its original container.
Management of Student Behavior
1. Be respectful toward yourself and others in your words and actions
2. Respect the property and personal space of others
3. Listen when others are speaking, wait for your turn to speak
4. Follow the directions of the staff
5. Ask for help if you need help
6. Do your best
Each student and family will be provided with a copy of the classroom rules and will have opportunities to discuss these as needed. Every effort will be made to provide a positive classroom environment with students provided social reinforcements for positive coping and progress toward goals. Additionally, the classroom will use a token economy to provide tangible reinforcement to each student in conjunction with his or her specific goals. Each student will have a daily sheet for monitoring goals and providing feedback regarding behavior throughout the day. The student will have the opportunity to earn tokens for successfully following rules and meeting goals during the various class periods. These tokens can be exchanged for a variety of rewards and privileges at the discretion of the classroom staff. Specifics of these rewards and privileges will be provided to the students and caregivers. Once earned, tokens will not be taken away from the student, although to exchange tokens the student must be calm, follow all rules, and receive permission from the staff.
Consequences for Behavioral Infractions
While every effort will be made to emphasize positive attention to appropriate behaviors, a student will earn a behavioral consequence for violation of the school rules. These consequences can include the following:
Verbal Warning: Following an infraction of the stated rules a student will be given a verbal warning by staff regarding the specific rule they are violating. The student will be encouraged to come up with a positive alternative decision or method of coping and will be supported in using this to make a more adaptive decision.
Time-out: In the event a student continues in a minor infraction of the rules or commits a more serious infraction of the rules the student will be instructed to make use of a time-out. The timeout is served in a specified time-out space. The student is expected to go immediately to this space. The time-out is an opportunity for the student to reduce stimulation, regain control of him/herself, and consider more positive alternative behaviors. Once the student is able to sit quietly in the time-out location for three minutes, the time-out will be concluded. At that time a staff member will process with the student what behavior resulted in the time-out and what the student could have done differently to follow the rules and achieve a more positive outcome.
Safety Considerations: The safety of all students and staff is of primary importance in the Therapeutic Classroom. Should a student escalate to the point of becoming aggressive, other students will be escorted from the classroom to maintain safety and remove the “audience” from the behavior. Efforts will be made to calm the student and to help the student accept and complete a time-out. Staff are trained in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention techniques and will use these to help de-escalate the student. Physical restraints will not be used with students. Caregivers will be informed of any serious escalation. Should safety become a factor either due to aggression or the student leaving the school then local police will be called as well to assist in the situation and help restore safety.
Please contact Jim Nelson (Therapeutic Classroom Principal) at email@example.com or 608-822-3276 ex.2157
Class Dojo Mentor
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PBS Digital Innovator
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