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When you’re a SEIT or SETSS provider you like to stay on cases for a long time, at least if you’re anything like me. However, unfortunately, sometimes leaving a case happens. It can be an emotionally difficult process for both you and the student. In this post, I’m going to share my tips and tricks with you for how to gracefully exit a case.
What is the record for the longest you’ve ever worked with a student?
Mine is six years and counting at the time I’m writing this.
People say to me all the time, it must be so rewarding to stick with students for years, because you really get to see them grow, and change.
It’s true. I do get to see them learn new skills, grow, change and progress through the years. That student I’ve been with six years is a completely different kid now than he was when I meet him!
However, we can’t all stay on a case forever. There have been numerous cases I’ve been on that haven’t worked out.
How do you exit a case while caring for both you and your student’s emotional well-being?
In this post, I will cover my tips and tricks for leaving a case.
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Why are you leaving the case?
First thing first, the best way to leave a case will depend on the reasons for you leaving and who prompted it.
There are three possible parties who could take you off a case.
- The parents
- The district
- Maybe an agency if you work with one
By far the easiest and least emotional exit scenario is if the district has removed you from the case for whatever reason.
It could be because the child made so much progress they no longer qualify for your services. (YAY!) Or it could be for some random bureaucratic reason.
I once had a district request the parents find someone else because they wanted an ABA licensed provider on the case, which I am not.
Neither the mother nor student nor I were very upset about the situation. It was understood it was a bureaucratic decision, and I hadn’t been there that long.
I got my final paperwork signed and everyone moved on with their lives.
The other two scenarios can be much more complicated.
If you are taking yourself off the case
The best way to handle this situation is to be very upfront and professional about it. There will be an emotional response, probably from the student that you will have to manage.
It depends on how long you’ve been there and your relationship with them.
I’ve had students who I’ve worked with for years get super emotional when I tell them I’m leaving, and I’ve had kids who don’t care.
You know how best to break the bad news to them since you know them and I don’t. Follow your gut. Be empathetic and make them feel safe.
The parents might also have some feelings if you have been on the case for a while. I’ve heard of families treating a SEIT leaving as some kind of betrayal.
If this is a situation you’re in, be professional and set up boundaries.
Be clear and firm on your reasons, and make sure it’s clear that it isn’t personal. If you are leaving because of them (no judgment if you are, as a bad parent can make your job hell), this is one of the few instances where I recommend lying.
Tell them you don’t think you’re the best person for the case because of XYZ. You can even make your rationale something close to the truth.
“I just don’t think we have similar communication styles and we’d both be happier if there was a different provider. I’m happy to give you some names or referrals.”
Sometimes parents don’t treat you like a professional, because it’s their child and personal life you’re dealing with. They forget this is your job. The best way to handle that is to be extremely professional when things become emotional.
To learn more about a SEIT’s relationship with parents, click here!
Before you leave make sure to
- Get all your billing paperwork signed
- File appropriate exit paperwork with your agency or the district
- Give referrals to another service provider or agency
- Agree to communicate with the new provider as needed
Then get out of there!
What if the parents fired me?
This has happened to all of us at some point, so don’t be embarrassed or ashamed.
If the parents have fired me, then I let them deal with explaining it to their child, and the emotional fall out if there is any.
Full disclosure whenever I have been fired, it’s been by parents that are not all there, don’t understand what I do, or had unrealistic expectations.
Chances are it had nothing to do with you and is more about the parents and whatever issues they have.
Hold your head up high. Get your final billing paperwork signed and get out.
Still, be professional and courteous to them, but make sure to prioritize your self-care. Getting let go is an emotional process. Talk to your friends, therapists, or coworkers about what happened. Don’t hold it in.
Just remember you love your students, and you are incredible at what you do. If they couldn’t appreciate that, then it wasn’t the case for you.
What if someone asks about them?
This is where things can get tricky. I don’t know about all of you, but in my area of the world, there aren’t a lot of SEITs. We all kind of know each other.
I’ve had coworkers call me when they’re considering taking a case, and they heard I was the last provider.
If the family had unreasonable expectations or let you go for reasons you felt were unjust you should be honest with whatever provider is asking.
I always say to respect your coworkers enough to let them know what they’re getting into.
Leaving a case can be an emotional process and difficult to navigate. I hope these tips and tricks have helped you learn more about the best way to do it.
Just remember no matter what, that you are valuable, and you deserve to spend your time where you are making the most impact.
It’s all about the students at the end of the day!
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