The Problem: The Vanishing Rural Therapist
An accelerating therapist shortage in Rural America is creating higher caseloads for therapists. Consequently, this is causing unprecedented therapist burnout, unwelcomed recruiting and turnover expenses, and impeding students from making progress against their IEP goals. The unhappy result–many innocent children, left to suffer in silence.
1. Just Not Enough Therapists
Take SLPs for example: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, “there is a considerable national shortage of SLPs projected over the next 5 years. An additional 28,800 SLPs will be needed to fill the demand between 2010 and 2020.” These shortages are exacerbated in rural areas where 80% of rural schools have shortages in special education teachers and staff.
2. Not Enough Money
An equally imposing hurdle to solving the deficit is money or not enough of it. Compounding budget shortfalls are inadequate tax revenues, which take a heavy toll on special education and therapy. Add to this the higher recruitment fees charged by staffing agencies to find “distant and elusive” therapists, and the heartbreaking reality is this: the children are being sacrificed.
3. Hard to Attract or Hold Therapists
But it isn’t only that salaries are not competitive. Rural areas are far from urban cultural centers and universities, thus restricting teachers from participating in training and development programs that would enhance therapists professionally. Rural clinicians often complain of feeling isolated both socially and culturally.
The Optimal Solution: Online Therapy for Rural Schools
Given this sad state of affairs, it certainly would be understandable and even well justified for rural school administrators to wave their white flags in surrender. Where can they possibly go to solve this seemingly insurmountable problem?
Enter online therapy for rural schools which provides anytime, anywhere access to licensed, credentialed Mental Health, Occupational, and Speech Language Therapists. Furthermore, it saves critical financial resources by eliminating recruitment hassles and expenses, screening, contracting, training, managing clinicians, and transportation costs.
It’s a Win Win Win!
Computers are part of the very tapestry of our children’s lives. They love game-based activities such as video interactions and computerized learning. As technology advances, and children become more adept with computers at a young age, the expectation of being motivated by the computer; the monitor, games, and images will provide a seamless transition into online therapy.
1. Solving the Staffing Shortage
Online therapy for rural schools is viable, evidence-based, and cost-effective practice for districts. These districts can hire high-quality clinicians at reasonable rates, and ensure that their students receive consistent therapy by eliminating barriers to distance, mobility, and time. And they will fully comply with The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
By eliminating geographic and logistical barriers, there is unprecedented flexibility regarding when therapy sessions take place. While onsite contractors control the timing and may lock schools into rigid schedules, the network of therapists and the online delivery model allows for therapy to be provided when it’s convenient for the school and the students.
Online therapy for rural schools ensures uninterrupted service. Since the online therapy agency has a pool of therapists ready, it’s no longer a hassle to finds replacements when therapists leave, move away or are just absent. And this benefits the student as well, being that success is often directly linked to the therapist’s consistency.
Online therapy for rural schools allow you to be your boss, enjoy flexible, convenient hours and eliminate travel. You can work as much as you want, and grow your career while working from the comfort of your home. It promotes productivity, managing caseload and workload more efficiently, and the chance to spend more time working with kids and less time in the car.
The Future is Already Here
So, while the challenge is daunting, and perhaps even overwhelming at times, online therapy for rural schools offers an effective, nationally endorsed solution that brings new hope and promise for children in rural districts…and their school administrators who want to help them!