Parents 'burnt out' dealing with agencies
Parents of residential school pupils are burnt out from "horror" experiences with agencies meant to help their children.
Education Minister Hekia Parata this week said McKenzie Residential School in Christchurch and Salisbury School in Richmond, Nelson, would be closed as part of a proposed revamp of special education.
Christchurch's Halswell Residential College and Auckland's Westbridge Residential School will remain open.
The closed schools will be replaced by special "wraparound" services involving schools and agencies.
The Halswell Residential College Learning and Behaviour Support (Labs) team said if the wraparound service was going to work, agencies needed to pull together instead of making already exhausted families chase them for help.
Pupils with learning and behavioural difficulties from around the South Island are referred to Labs, which already acts as a wraparound service.
Richard Chalklen, of Labs, said many families came to the team "in crisis" because they were not getting help from agencies.
"They are burnt out. They have got horror stories from these services," he said.
Labs' Jane Ballinger said there was a lack of co-ordination among agencies such as Work and Income and disability services.
"Often families are exhausted trying to reach out to agencies themselves," she said.
"There is a lack of co-ordination among agencies and they need to work together to support families."
Chalklen said sometimes support could be as simple as advocating for a family at a meeting.
Lisa Christensen, of Labs, said it could be "overwhelming" for teachers to have a pupil with complex needs in their mainstream class.
Keeping pupils in their local community was a priority, but some had to go to Halswell because they could not get that support at home.
"We are able to provide strategies and resources to support the student's learning programme," she said.
"Our service aims to work alongside others, including family, whanau and professionals, to complement and add to what is currently being provided for the student."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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