Friday 23 June 2017

New service helps keep learners in their local communities

The new Intensive Wraparound Service is an extension of existing behaviour services for learners with highly complex and challenging needs. KATE BLEASDALE looks at the developments.
Introduction of the newly expanded and locally provided Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS) is part of an effort ensuring services and resources are there to support the small number of children and young people who have highly complex and challenging behaviour, social, or education needs.
This includes children and young people who also have an intellectual impairment.
Support from the IWS aims to help children and young people stay at or return to their local school and enjoy a successful home and school life.
National Manager Intensive Wraparound Service, David Pluck, said the service helps work towards the Government’s target for 100 per cent inclusive schools. This means students will, effectively, get the best of both worlds in terms of educational support and be able to be fully involved within their communities. Supporting an inclusive approach is also directly in line with the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“We believe that the Intensive Wraparound Service is going to make a difference to long-term outcomes for many children and leave a legacy of increased capability in local schools, and for their communities and families/whānau.”
The new service is based on the successful Intensive Behaviour Service (IBS), which was introduced by the Ministry in 2010 when Waimokoia Residential School closed. Minister Tolley ring-fenced the funding from that school to provide services and support for children and young people in their local schools.
In the past two years, more than 200 children and their families/whānau have been provided with support. This includes funding to allow the students to live in their home communities and attend their local schools. These children would have previously accessed services and support through other programmes including attending residential special schools.
“The expansion of the Intensive Wraparound Service to include students with complex learning needs, including those associated with intellectual impairment, means that more children will now be able to receive this level of service,” said David. “For every one child in a residential school, three children with complex and challenging needs (and their families, communities and whānau) can receive support through the Intensive Wraparound Service. The service provides well-resourced, evidence-informed, local support for children/young people who previously may have required residential special school enrolment.”
“In the new service, students with the highest level of need will still be able to access residential special schools for short and intense periods of time to receive targeted programmes and interventions, delivered by skilled and knowledgeable specialist staff.”

How the service works
When a child or young person has been referred to the IWS, an assessment of their needs is completed by an IWS facilitator.
The facilitators are trained psychologists. Their job is to develop individualised plans for every learner they work with. They are based in the Ministry of Education local and regional offices throughout New Zealand.
The plan sets out all the things that everyone will do to help a child or young person succeed.
For example, it may suggest professional development and training for a child’s classroom teacher to help the teacher learn new teaching and behaviour management strategies.
Initiatives set out in the plan cover a period of up to three years and are funded by the Ministry through the IWS for up to two years.
A learner’s plan and funding is managed by their IWS facilitator in partnership with the team supporting the child (this includes school, family/whānau, and other agencies).
The facilitators work with all the people who support a child – including their parents, family and whānau, their teacher, and other people, such as special education specialists (from the Ministry).
Other representatives from agencies such as Child, Youth and Family (CYF) and residential special schools might also be involved.  
Case study – Daniel’s story
Twelve-year-old Daniel had spent five terms at McKenzie Residential School in Christchurch before it closed down and he moved back to stay with his caregivers Barbara and Ross in Palmerston North.
Daniel has been diagnosed with serious learning disabilities, along with post-traumatic stress disorder, conduct disorder, dyslexia, and dyspraxia.
Work started on creating a wraparound plan for Daniel prior to him leaving McKenzie Residential School; it was an extensive process that Barbara said included support for them at home, not just for Daniel’s time at school.
Creating the plan involved meeting with all the different health professionals who were involved with helping Daniel’s transition and also included a strengthening families meeting.
Daniel’s learning needs were incorporated into his school plan, which saw him receive a laptop to help with his typing and his own teacher’s aide.
“His teacher’s aide has been an absolute bonus, and the process around getting the right person was really great,” said Barbara.
Daniel’s learning plan incorporates what he loves to do into his learning, such as cooking.
Barbara said Daniel has time during the school day to bake biscuits or scones, which are enjoyed by the staff, and subjects like mathematics can be incorporated into these activities.
Daniel can find mathematics a hard subject, but Barbara said it’s made more accessible for him when he learns through measuring ingredients and also when doing exercises involving counting money.
His passion for playing cricket has also been embraced by the school, and they have organised regular lunch time games for all students.
Daniel will start high school next year, and Barbara said plans are already being put in place for that, as it will be another big transition.
Outside of school, support has been offered for Daniel in the form of after-school or holiday programmes, and one-on-one swimming lessons.
At home, Ross and Barbara have their own social worker who they can contact with any concerns or needs.
Even though it is still just term 1, Barbara said they have noticed a difference in Daniel since he’s gone back to a mainstream school.
“Academically he’s never going to be great … but he’s going to school and coming home happy every day, which is a bonus.”
Barbara said when Daniel used to come home from school upset or in a bad mood, it was very hard for her and Ross to deal with.
“Because that’s when the battles would start – when he came home in a bad mood and we’d have to go through it all again.”
Part of his enjoyment at school now is thanks to Daniel’s teacher’s aide, said Barbara. She said the teacher’s aide is a younger male, who encourages Daniel to take part in school activities but is also there to provide support when needed.
These positive results so early on can be put down to in-depth preparatory work that was done by Daniel’s Ministry of Education support worker and Child, Adolescent and Family Service (CAFS) representative, said Barbara.
“There was a lot of time put in to get everything up and running, put the meetings in place, and to make sure that everybody who said they would do something had done it.”
Support also came from the principal of McKenzie Residential School, whom Barbara said met with various groups and explained Daniel’s academic and social background.