The Lucy Daniels School staff want to ensure that our specialized school program will be the right match for a child and family and the optimal way to support the child’s emotional, social, and academic development. After filling out a Request For Consultation form our website, parents generally meet (within days) with one of our senior mental health clinicians. In that meeting, they have an opportunity to discuss and ask questions about their child and about the school program. At this time the clinician will also explain the remaining steps in the assessment process.
The assessment process, although individually crafted, typically includes several additional meetings with parents to learn more about the child’s background. Staff also meet with each child for two or more play-based sessions. (Parents are usually present for children five years and younger.) Teachers and school directors often participate in these meetings as well and they may also observe (with parental permission) the child in his or her current classroom when possible. Lucy Daniels staff will review past records and talk (again with parental permission) with prior professionals involved in the child’s care. Finally, we may administer standardized psychological tests in situations where we feel that they may provide helpful information.
The assessment process generally takes three to four weeks. Because we have spent ample time learning about each child and family, we have a depth and breadth of information that enables us to provide sophisticated advice about the best approach to help the child learn and grow emotionally and socially, making plans around the individual needs and strengths of the child that go beyond just diagnosis. If the Lucy Daniels School with its associated services from the Center is not the ideal approach, we recommend those treatment options that do offer the most promise. In almost all situations, we can provide recommended treatments on-site in our clinics. In those rare situations in which we feel that we cannot best serve the needs of the child, we help families access appropriate resources in the community.
There is another equally important piece to our evaluation. Parents have time to learn about how we think about their child and about our educational philosophies. Questions are answered and relationships begin to evolve. At the end of the process, if we do recommend the school, parents are in a strong position to make a highly informed choice.