I received a phone call from a very frustrated and desperate middle school principal. He was calling from a rural area and was very conditioned to hearing ‘No, we can’t help you. You’re too far away.” As I listened to the principal’s plea, I was preparing to gently let him down again. I stopped when he reported that he had been referred to KVC through a local Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services case manager who told him, “I don’t think this is possible, but if it is – it would be through KVC Nebraska.”
This information piqued my interest and I asked him politely to continue. He then told me about a youth who had been expelled the previous year due to leaving school grounds and exhibiting extreme violence and aggression towards staff, students and school property. The principal wanted an experienced clinician to sit with this student five days a week during each class and help her learn healthy skills for regulating her emotions and behavior. The principal had a deep desire to help this youth succeed in school, and he and the local school district hoped KVC’s Intensive Family Preservation (IFP) services would be the answer.
I shared my desire to help with the principal, but said that I needed clarification and approval first. I hung up with him and immediately called my supervisor who gave me several items to consider and further helped to shape what this specific school intervention may look like. She then asked for a few more specific details and called our Vice President to share the school’s request for help.
This situation was truly unprecedented. Our VP spent a few hours drafting a contract that would be specific to the needs of the youth, the school and KVC. I then reached out to one of our Intensive Family Preservation (IFP) clinicians who lived approximately 45 minutes away from the school and shared the proposal with her. When I asked her if she would be willing to work with the youth, she enthusiastically said “Of course!” She asked a few more questions and agreed to arrive at the school the following Tuesday.
After that first day, the IFP clinician discovered that the youth had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Historically, the youth would flip desks, assault students and teachers, and run away from the school when she became agitated. The clinician spent the next two weeks working with this young girl for seven hours each day in addition to continuing to manage the rest of her work. This clinician’s dedication and efforts in helping this student resulted in VERY long workdays, but she never complained. She arrived each day with a deep desire to help this youth identify when and why she was becoming agitated and supported her through several self-regulation exercises.
Since working with our IFP clinician, the youth had no further incidents requiring removal from the classroom or a trip to the principal’s office. In fact, she attended each class for two weeks with minor issues. At the end of the two weeks, the principal called and expressed his deepest appreciation for the efforts made to accept the unique nature of the case. He was very grateful for the clinician’s enthusiasm and desire to help. The principal requested that she come back the following week to facilitate a training on de-escalation techniques and on KVC’s Safe and Connected™ model, as well as on identifying non-verbal language that communicates “I’m upset” or “I’m angry” amongst children with autism.
KVC is currently preparing a training toolkit for all of the faculty to use at this school, and the principal is referring this program to other schools in rural areas. I was profoundly awestruck by the entire process and the willingness and creativity displayed by multiple employees in finding a solution that was best for all parties. KVC truly answered the call!
Learn more about KVC Nebraska’s services and how we help the community. You can also learn more about how KVC uses the Safe & Connected™ model and how it helps children and families.