Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Systems are Made for People in the Systems

So this mom asks her doctor for a refferal to a public speech/hearing clinic for her son. Nothing big, just some speech issues she'd like some advice about.

The doctor sends in the refferal to the clinic and gets a response saying that the clinic only accepts refferals through school boards.

The doctor sends in a note explaining that the boy is homeschooled. Clinic responds by saying they don't care. Their policy is their policy.

The doctor calls the mom and asks what school board oversees her homeschooling. Mom explains that her homeschooling isn't overseen by a school board but rather by the provincial Department of Education.

The doctor and the mom groan. Both see many frustrating phone calls in the future.

Happily the doctor thinks of an alternate solution. Check with your private insurer, she says, and see if they cover speech assessments and then I'll give a local private clinic a call. The mom accepts the solution.

Off the phone, anger builds. A public health service that's supposed to be availible to the public has a built-in flaw that they refuse to be flexible about. The flaw is also incapable of acknowledging the possibility that a local school board might not be so willing to help a homeschooler. The mom vows to write letters to the appropriate ministries.

And then she goes and writes a blog post about the whole frigging mess.


molytail said...

yeah I know how this goes, unfortunately. (not exactly how *your* province does things, but the whole kid-needing-services and having to be in the system to get them)....Christopher requires a lot of specialized intervention and the only way to get most of it is through the school system. *sigh*

JJ Ross said...

NOT defending system inflexibility of any kind, including this! -- but my first thought was that the clinic professionals understandably want to concentrate on delivering the needed services directly to the kids, not the endless meetings and explanations and controls and negotiating with all the individual parents -- from any type of school or homeschool, doesn't matter -- an exhausting few of whom arm themselves as warriors going into battle and agitate fulltime for all sorts of services and protocols, as a champion for their own child or children.

As a parent I think this is exactly what we SHOULD do, especially as a home-educating parent, but also I used to work in school board administration. A (relatively) few parents agitating as above ate up all kinds of system resources not for their kids but with their own um, "advocacy" and sapped our mental health, while many others needed to be educated themselves about every aspect of the services and resources they might qualify for.

We need all of that from the system, and the system needs to provide it in a well-managed way. No one disputes that.

But as happens with kids in school, 20 percent of the parents took 80 percent of our available time and energy. Of course individual parents deserve individual access to assistance within the education system, and knowledgeable people to explain and offer and manage and help, even to endure their anger when they don't like or understand something -- that happened a LOT -- and so we did all that in one process away from the actual programs, protecting the efforts of the actual providers for actually working with the kids!

This can be done badly. Managed health care in the US has done it VERY badly, in fact, but the answer then is to do it better, not just to stop managing at all.

JJ Ross said...

Also -- thinking more about the private alternative -- that's what we did with Favorite Daughter's math disability. We could have accessed the school system psychological testing for free in terms of money but not free emotionally nor in terms of the control and choice we'd give up. It it would have been a nightmare.

So instead I found the best private clinician available and paid $800 out of pocket, for two full days of intensive one-on-one evaluation. Exactly what both parent and child needed, and therefore priceless . . .

Luke said...

Ugh. Another example of how "public services" are only for those in an approved part of the public, and a great reminder that, perhaps, things aren't so good when they are part of a "system" instead of run in a more free market.

May this situation be resolved quickly and painlessly for you, and soon.


Dawn said...

Well, I'm quite happy that this is a public service. If it were part of a more free market service I'm quite sure there would still be obstacles to jump. Private systems still have their bureaucracies! :D

JJ- I agree on some level. I opted out of the public education system after all. But I did not opt out of the public health system which is what the speech/hearing clinics fall under. It's their policy I have an issue with, not the school boards.

Regardless, I found out that our insurance won't cover the assessment but my doctor called (wonderful woman) and said the local private clinic does articulation assessments for a relatively small fee which is all that I'm after.

Mrs. C said...

Costs $100 to join HSLDA. Might be spending less than the insurance copays that way. Just a thought that they might help, though no one should *have* to fork over money to access services they're already paying taxes to support. Good grief.

Dawn said...

Naw. It's nothing I can't raise a stink over myself. Much more fn that way!