School Psychology professionals and clinicians are often asked to complete multi-team assessments for early childhood and pre-kindergarten children. Here are four tips that may help professionals involved in multi-team early childhood assessments.
Tip One: A multi-team assessment can take many forms. Some school districts have the child go around to different clinician’s offices and they are tested or interviewed individually by the school psychologist, speech therapist, school nurse, special education teacher, general education teacher, and other professionals if needed (such as the occupational therapist, physical therapist or vision and hearing specialist.). The clinicians then consult with each other after the family leaves the assessment offices. Other school districts may use a more play-based assessment system where the child is playing with other children and all the clinicians are watching the child at the same time. The clinicians can quickly share information and make determinations as to whether the child continues in the assessment and needs no further assessment, a screener, or a full assessment.
Tip Two: Seek outside assistance if needed. Some clinicians just need more information than they get from a one-time assessment. It may be necessary to obtain consent from the parent to contact outside agencies or organizations. This may include obtaining additional medical information, contacting preschools or daycare programs the child is attending, and social service or foster care agencies to get a better picture of the child. It may be necessary for the school psychologists and clinicians to make additional observations of the child as he or she interacts with same-age peers in preschool. This outside assistance can help get a broader picture of how the child appears in different settings and situations.
Tip Three: Seek Parent or Guardian Input in the Multi-Team Assessment. Parents or guardians often know their young children best so it makes practical sense to collect as much information as possible from parents and caregivers. It is important to note that guardians can also have different perspectives about the child. The clinician or school psychologist can find similar factors that a parent or guardian reports, but the clinician can also note differences in reporting the results. Parents or guardians may not view the child in the same way so clinicians may have to share some unique or overlooked characteristics the child is presenting with in the assessment process.
Tip Four: Write Recommendations to Reflect Possible Changes in the Child. The clinicians and school psychologist may want to consider broad recommendations to understand the child may be making changes. Sometimes recommendations may include areas of the assessment where the child was inconsistent with task completion. It could be the child needs more practice to fully master a task or needs directions repeated to fully understand how to do an activity. There may also be inconsistencies in characteristics the child presents like limited eye contact that may need to be monitored or observed more as the child attends pre-school or participates in play activities.