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Hartland Consolidated Schools

The Hartland Independence Facilitators (IF) help students who need extensive support in order to progress on IEP goals. There are three key reasons that an Independence Facilitator may work with a specific student.  
  1. A concern for the physical safety of a student or for other students
  2. Medical concerns that impact the student's physical management in his or her environment
  3. Individual self-care (toileting, eating, etc.)
The need for IF assistance is determined by the student's IEP team. School teams must be creative in using natural supports to the maximum extent possible. Team members and IEP implementers share ideas, expertise, and resources in planning as well as in carrying out the needed support for the identified special needs of each student.
Cautions & Considerations
Assigning IF support to students can often times make adults feel better and may relieve some pressure, it is critical for IEP teams to remember that too much or the wrong kind of support can be very disabling to students. First and foremost, the goal for any learner with special needs is to encourage, promote, and maximize student independence. If not carefully monitored, additional assistance can easily (and usually does) and unintentionally foster dependence. A student's total educational program must be carefully evaluated to determine where support is indicated.
If the IEP determines that IF assistance is necessary, it is not the role of the IEP team members (including parents) to assign an individual person to perform the identified services. That responsibility belongs to building principals or their designee.

Parents should not expect to have direct contact or communication with the IF who works with their child. All contact and communication should be between parents and the classroom teacher.

Potential Benefits of IF Support
  • IF can provide follow-up instruction when students are not able to maintain during classroom instruction due to behavior or medical needs
  • IF can provide supervision for short amounts of time when teachers need to focus on other groups of students.
  • IF may be able to facilitate social skills, peer interaction, and positive behavior support plans
  • IF strive to assure safety for all students
  • IF are able to support students with self-care
Cautions When Considering IF Support (Inadvertent detrimental effect of excessive or unnecessary IF proximity)
  • Separation for Classmates
  • Unnecessary Dependence
  • Interference with Peer Interactions (The Shadow)
  • Insular Relationships
  • Feeling of Stigmatization
  • Limited Access to Competent Instruction
  • Interference with Teacher Engagement, Ownership, and Responsibility
  • Loss of Personal Control
  • Loss of Gender Identity
  • May Provoke Problem Behaviors
Rotation of Para Educators
While there can be opposition to changing IF assignments it has been our experience that in the long run both the student and the IF benefit from regular change of IF assignments. A lack of variation can be stifling to both the adult and to the learner. Changing staff prevents boredom and it enables the student to adapt to new people. Re-assignment of IF staff also avoids the difficulty of the IF taking on “full ownership” of the student. Creating the opportunity for IF to work with a variety of students also builds their skills.

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