By Rebecca James, KVC West Virginia Foster and Adoptive Care Case Manager.
As a child develops, the early years of one’s life impact how the brain grows significantly. When a young child has to enter foster care as a result of abuse and neglect, the chances of experiencing developmental and cognitive problems increase. These negative impacts can affect how a child builds relationships, manages their emotions and even can affect their physical health. Fortunately, the brain can heal through therapy, reducing toxic stress and with the support of caring adults.
4-year-old Jeremiah entered foster care because his parents weren’t able to provide a stable living environment which adversely affected his mental development. As a result, he struggled with learning his letters, communicating and missed other developmental milestones. When Jeremiah entered preschool, the faculty members had difficulty knowing how to accommodate his needs, and some worried that too much class time would be needed to help Jeremiah succeed.
Though Jeremiah was academically at the state’s percentage rate to be promoted to kindergarten, his foster parents, teacher and I as his foster care case manager knew that he would be set up to fail if he were to go up a grade. He wouldn’t be able to meet the standards and expectations the next grade would require, and needed more support to be successful. The principal’s solution was for the teacher to essentially stop giving him extra assistance so that he would fail preschool and be held back. I did not feel that that was in the best interest of Jeremiah. He deserved an education that would accommodate his needs.
Instead of letting Jeremiah fail, I suggested that he take an IQ Evaluation. This evaluation would help us determine where Jeremiah could be mentally and we would then know how to best help him, at his pace. Depending on Jeremiah’s results, this would qualify him for an educational path that would suit his needs. Once again, the principal pushed back against this idea, citing that Jeremiah was too young for the test to be effective.
I knew that we could help Jeremiah if we understood how he learned, so I decided to go directly to my KVC supervisors, and they agreed that an IQ Evaluation was the best option for Jeremiah. We put in the referral for Jeremiah’s test with KVC’s Psychologist Michelle Moske and, as we suspected, his IQ was low for his age group. Fortunately, this immediately qualified him to receive the more specialized, one-on-one educational attention he needed and is a big step in the right direction to help him thrive in life.
Though the principal was initially against the idea, he was very pleased with this outcome.
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