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Finding the Proper Placement for Troubled Teens is Crucial to Success

Deborah Fisk
Communications Manager
Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA)
3251 Old Lee Highway, # 510
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone : 703-591-4850

July 13, 2005

Fairfax, VA - With reality shows such as "Brat Camp" appearing on television and focusing attention on programs for troubled children, educational consultants stress the need for individual assessment and placement. "Intervention and wilderness programs such as the program depicted in "Brat Camp" can be an excellent alternative for families with at-risk teenagers," said Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. "But programs vary, and the key to a successful outcome is finding the proper placement for each individual child."

Issues such as drug use, promiscuity, aggression, and ADHD create a barrage of often overwhelming emotions in a family. The confusion and desperation associated with a troubled teen can be extremely trying. As parents look for answers, most are not aware of what options are available. Given the immediate need often associated with these situations, at-risk teenagers can be especially vulnerable to an improper placement. Educational consultants are trained experts who possess comprehensive knowledge of placement options. Many consultants specialize in crisis intervention, and have extensive experience advising families with children who have emotional and behavioral difficulties.

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This expertise is used to advise families on the most suitable placement for the child.

"An independent consultant thoroughly interviews both the child and the family to determine individual needs and concerns," said Sklarow. "Getting to know both the parents and the child in a neutral environment is vital to discovering the solution. Often the child will open up to an objective listener such as a consultant, sharing information that surprises the parent."

In some cases, testing may be done to determine specific learning and behavioral patterns. Teens who are "acting out" can appear very similar, although the underlying roots of the behavior can be quite different. Programs are then researched to find the best fit for the child. Educational consultants spend about 20% of their time on the road, visiting therapeutic programs and other educational institutions. Not tied to any one institution, they can concentrate on providing unbiased options.

After placement the consultant follows up with the child to monitor progress. Consultants often work as part of a treatment team in conjunction with therapists, and can also serve as supports for parents.

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Chartered in 1976, the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) is a non-profit, professional association of full-time experienced independent consultants. From its headquarters in the Washington, DC area, IECA can help put parents in touch with consultants in their local area. Member consultants work with clients on a wide range of educational issues, including college placement, private day and boarding school options, programs for at-risk children, and students with learning disabilities or special needs. Membership in the Association requires an appropriate masterís degree or comparable training and a minimum of three years experience in the profession, as well as meeting IECAís professional standards and subscribing to its Principles of Good Practice. Members continually update their knowledge and maintain skills through IECA-sponsored meetings, workshops, training programs, and information exchanges with colleges, schools, programs and other consultants.

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