I am posting a matter of fact VENT about the triplets Summer Pre-school Camp Program "SITUATION." It is my first real chance to bitch and moan on the blog- it probably won't be my last-- but when something like this happens you do whatever you can to avoid keeping it internalized. You gotta let it go somehow, someway and my blog is my blog it is all mine, so I am gonna let it rip! If you are reading today and you are under 18 or prefer not to read 4-letter words that you can't say on tv (REST IN PEACE GEORGE CARLIN) than look away now...this post is ugly. Long Winded, Factual and Ugly.
The triplets were approved for Early Intervention services through Franklin County. Help Me Grow is the umbrella that finds services for clients based on need. In our case all three kids were assessed by Help Me Grow and were found to be speech, PT and OT delayed at 18 months of age. We were given the go ahead for services until age three. They were born under 3 pounds each, at 28 weeks (they would have automatically been able anyway) but we needed a baseline test of what they were doing developmentally, and at the time they were behind full term singletons in all areas.
This past school year they all attend the Early Education center classroom at the FCBMRDD based pre-school, 4 days a week in the mornings and it helped tremendously. They each got various therapies during classtime to help them grow and develop to where they could be caught up to non preemies. It was like a light went off inside their heads, how much of that is coming with age and how much of that is influence- hard to say. But the school experience was fabulous all the way around. They LOVED school! You have seen the photos. THEY LOVED IT.
Back in April they were enrolled for the Summer program. I filled out mountains of paperwork, releases, emergency contact forms and attached copies of their medical and shot records... TIMES THREE. I wrote the checks and attached them to the paperwork. It was tedious, but I thought it would be worth it. The camp-preschool which is 3 afternoon days a week started today. On May 9th we got formal letter(s) in the US Mail, 3 letters actually, one for each child from Kathy Mortimer, the director of the Summer program stating they were enrolled for the Summer P.M. session on T-W-Th starting June 24 at 12:30. HOORAY.
In May it was time to decide about testing them for Fall of next year. There is a standard series of tests done to determine eligibilty based on physical, occupational, speech, gross motor skills etc etc. IF they did not qualify I was going to have to seek a different school that had room to place Three 3 year olds in one time slot. I was okay with seperate classes but wanted only one drop off and pick up time and place. (understandable). As you can imagine, finding a new school is daunting enough with one toddler but when you are talking about three it magnifies things. We had a hunch they had come too far in all areas to be considered delayed anymore, but wanted to make sure we were not overlooking something that could use help. So back on April 16th we have this intense sit down meeting with all the therapists from the current pre-school and they tell me that the Public school district where we live usually does the testing for the three year old program, so we contacted them to join our Fall meeting-planning session. The public school psychologist sat in with us and said the tests are only administered by the Gahanna school district in mid-August or we could ask the current Early Education team to evaluate them sooner. It would be my choice- since the tests were standardized. Same tests different times. Hmmmm, I thought....test them now, and have all Summer to make other back up plans for Fall? Or wait until late August for Gahanna to give us the results and hope that the qualify under the guidelines and have to scramble if they don't?
I chose to have them evaluated back in early May by the folks at FCBMRDD where they were anyway - and at the follow up (findings and results of the tests discussed) meeting May 15th it was explained that they were too advanced to continue at that school in the Fall of 2008. I understand it is a mixed blessing because in order to be dropped from the program the kids have to test high enough in all categories to be considered "not in need of services". In the May 15 meeting Debbie New who sat in on the meeting but did not actively participate, mentioned they may not be able to be enrolled in the Summer program. It has been over a month since that meeting and I never heard another word from the FCBMRDD.
I showed up with all three kids in tow today for the first day of Summer Programming and was disappointed to learn that all three of the kids were indeed dropped from the summer schedule. So basically, to make a long story short, by doing what is best for my kids and testing them sooner rather than later, I sabotaged their ability to attend school this summer.
The FCBMRDD Summer program director, Kathy Mortimer could not have been more condscending and rude to me- as if I should have known better than to just show up with the three letters of congrats you are accepted into our Summer Program letters bearing her signature and expected to have a place there. She curtly stated that the May 9th letter she sent me was premature because they were disqualified after the results on May 14th. As a government agency, provided by the county they should have handled it better. How totally unprofessional. They did not send me anything in writing telling me of the change in status for Summer, they did not return my payment, and they did not make it known that this was even possible back in April or May. I would think that they would have had time from May 15 to June 24 to return my payment, call or send a letter notifying me of the cancellation of summer school. Kathy Mortimer pressed on and on about how they have not returned any payments yet. So how was I supposed to know anything different from the original acceptace and enrollment instructions she sent me?
To put it bluntly: Those assholes at the Franklin County Board of MRDD fucked us. They screwed my kids over and they make no excuses about it at all. It is harsh to say but seriously.... if the tables were turned here is what I would have said to someone in the same situation back in April- why not phrase the scenario this way:
"Mrs Slutsky, we know you have triplets and it is challenging to find a school that will be able to accomodate your three children in the Fall. I understand your urgency to want to get them tested now, but let me explain that if you test them in May and they do not qualify for services for Fall 2008, it will automatically render your summer enrollment void. The spot they currently hold in our 3 day a week camp will be dropped. they will not be allowed to attend at all. However, if you chose to have the Gahanna public school district do the testing as they planned for August you will have already completed the Summer Session and will just need to make other arrangements for the remainder of the 2008-2009 school year."
What would you do now? How do you change it once they are rejected? You can't change it after the fact, so you just suck it up and blame the ignorance of an agency that is designed to HELP KIDS not penalize them. My kids qualified to be there, they should be there, and if they had given me options in a logical manner they would be there now. So I am sitting here at my computer google searching some other summer activites and plans to get us out of the house this Summer. It is not easy to find activities for two year olds, especially when you require three spots in a class or time slot. You can damn well bet my kids will be busy- now I just have to get more creative about it.
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