As I mentioned in an earlier post regarding when to, or when not to, report something to Child Protective Services, it is ALARMING to me the lack of information provided to me, as a short term substitute when arriving for a job.
Disclaimer – when I came to my current 30-day job, the IEP coordinator came to me early on to make sure I read through the IEP binder kept in the room (under lock and key of course) so I am aware of learning disabilities and behavioral concerns of the kids.
Today was a 1/2 day. The kids were released at 12:45PM. Teachers then went into Committee Groups from 1-1:30PM. We all met in the auditorium at 1:30PM for a Teachers Council meeting. The administrative discussion was of no interest to me but they had a guest speaker from Blue Ridge Community and Technical College (BRCTC) who is a foster parent. She gave a 10 minute speech on what teachers need to be aware of when relating to students who are also “foster” children. She spoke about some very important things but what I took away most was the concept that CHANGE is a foster care child’s main enemy.
SHORT TERM SUB = CHANGE / INSTABILITY
As she left the auditorium, I followed her out to ask her some questions since not a single question was asked from the audience and being a short term long term sub I did not want to be the only person asking questions.
My question was, do teachers KNOW if a child is in foster care? Is this noted on a child’s IEP, assuming they have one? She told me that there are kids in the program who do have IEP’s but whether or not they’re being foster care kids being noted on the IEP’s is something that is not guaranteed as there is a great deal of secrecy involved in foster care management.
I had a chance to speak with the Special Education co-teacher in my classroom who did tell me which kids in our classes had issues similar to foster care if not directly. This information is NOT noted on their IEPs. Rather in the case of our students, their foster parents made her aware of their situation. In some cases the kids told her directly. After she shared what “unofficial” information she had, I have a much needed background on a bunch of MY STUDENTS that will make me a better, more concerned, educator for the rest of my short tenure at this job.
Back to my overarching question, should short term subs be informed of children in their rooms that have “concerns”? Considering the CHANGE issue, and the fact that I represent change and instability in the room. I have been told that as a substitute I should contact the office whenever their is an issue and not make it my issue to deal with. Perhaps this rule is important as I will imagine most substitute teachers have NO training to deal with these kids. Perhaps regrettable is, that in hindsight, the damage is already done when a substitute unknowingly mismanages a situation before being able to get help.
But I feel that it would be helpful to inform Subs of serious concerns with kids, not only for the benefit of the children, but also for the SAFETY OF THE SUBS?
Follow Up: I spoke to the principal of my current school who confirmed that Foster Care status is completely classified and teachers (much less substitute teachers) are NOT informed of this status.