FIRST CHILDREN CO-OP MODEL
CO-OP is a unique partnership between districts and First Children Services (FCS) in which First Children works with the district to design unique options for children with special needs who (1) need services not able to be delivered effectively or efficiently in district by district personnel; and (2) would progress more rapidly if they remain involved with their regular public school.
CO-OP works for children with special needs including: children with medical issues; children with autism, brain injury and intellectual challenges; children with hearing impairment and one or more additional special needs; and children with school phobias and anxieties.
CO-OP can work effectively for one child or for whole groups of children with similar needs in the district.
CO-OP programs are designed individually by FCS and the district working together to structure an option that works best for their specific needs. Options include but are not limited to:
Life Coaching. This is a concept adapted to educational settings from behavioral health. For kids with behavior and related issues this option provides a Life Coach trained and experienced in working with kids with emotional and behavioral issues in school settings. Life Coaches meet with small groups of kids before classes begin (special home rooms) and again at the end of the day. They help focus kids on the tasks of remaining attentive in class, achieving specific academic goals and interacting with others in a positive way. In the event of a crisis with a child during the day, the Life Coach is there to intervene. This model allows kids with developing behaviors to remain in school and helps to reduce disruptive behaviors in classes. The cost to provide a Life Coach is minimal in comparison to the cost of out of district placement or more intensive behavioral interventions.
Integrated Therapies. Under this option FCS sends highly experienced therapists into the district to work with children in their classrooms and in pull out sessions, as their needs and IEPs require. Therapies include: ABA; PT/OT/ST; teacher of the deaf services; School Social Workers and Psychologists experienced in working with children and teens with school anxiety and phobias, conduct issues and emotional issues preventing their full participation in school. This option saves districts on the cost of providing these therapies in two ways: (1) therapists work when you need them and you are charged for direct therapy hours only; (2) FCS is able to discount its very competitive rates particularly where districts have several children in need of these services. Currently, FCS provides these kinds of services to approximately 26 districts throughout NJ
Classroom Management Services. Under this option FCS provides all or some of the services required by children with special needs in district special education classrooms. This model works well for groups of students who might otherwise be candidates for out of district placement. Depending on the district’s needs FCS can provide all or just some of the staff including teachers, aides and therapists. FCS utilizes an IT platform that integrates both academic and therapeutic interventions, data and reports. Clearly, this saves districts significantly over the alternative of out of district placement but also saves by using FCS staff instead of more costly district personnel. Currently, FCS provides these kinds of services in approximately (10) districts in NJ.
“Half and Half”. Under this option, children attend their regular or special district classes and activities half day and go to FC’s school for the other half day to receive specialized interventions, including ABA therapy, PT/OT/ST, and other services. The FC tuition is half that of its full time charges. Children who have either been in long term out of district placements and are ready to transition back to school can take advantage of this option. Similarly, children not quite in need of a full time out of district placement, but who must get therapy services, work well in this model. Currently there are four students at FC School in Fanwood doing this half-day option
Looping. This option works well for districts who have groups of children with specific needs (e.g. autism) but need intensive out of district services for a limited period of time. Classes are formed and meet at First Children School in Fanwood for a year or more and then these entire classes transition or “loop” with the FCS staff into their districts. Following a year or so back in district with FCS staff, they are integrated into regular or special ed classes with the support of FCS staff as needed. Clearly, the advantages of looping are that children truly transition back into their public schools more quickly than those children typically sent out of district. While districts bear the full cost of the approved private school for a year or so, they quickly realize cost savings as children transition back.