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Frequently Asked Questions for Schools

What does PresenceLearning do?

PresenceLearning is the leading provider of live, online special education and related services for K-12. This includes online speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral interventions and mental health services, and assessments. We offer schools access to a nationwide network of highly qualified clinical professionals, including speech-language pathologists (SLPs), occupational therapists (OTs), school psychologists, and school social workers, who work directly with students—via web-based videoconferencing—using a full suite of online tools and evidence-based activities.

What problems does PresenceLearning address?

An increasing shortage of SLPs, OTs, and related services personnel in many parts of the country has made it difficult for schools to provide adequate services for children with special needs. The shortage has driven up the cost of these services and puts a heavy burden on overstretched school budgets and personnel, who must spend an inordinate amount of time searching for—and managing—scarce clinical resources. In some cases, schools are simply unable to provide sufficient services to students and fall short of federal mandates.

With PresenceLearning, you gain immediate, flexible access to SLPs, OTs, and mental health professionals, providing consistent, high quality therapy to students and freeing your organization from the time-consuming hassle of recruiting these personnel. Schools partner with PresenceLearning to reduce caseloads for their therapists and clinicians—and to improve student outcomes.

How great is the need?

More than 14% of America’s school-age population—between 6 and 7 million children—requires special education; roughly 50% of students with special needs require speech therapy and 20% require occupational therapy. This group includes children with articulation problems, language processing disorders, sensory processing disorders, and motor development issues.

While an estimated 58,000 SLPs work in schools, districts need 5,000 to 7,000 more SLPs than they can hire. Likewise, job openings for at least 2,000 OTs go unfilled every year. To make matters worse, about 50% of school therapists are expected to retire in the next decade, and others have been moving from K-12 education into health care—where compensation is higher and working conditions are less stressful. Further exacerbating the problem, qualified therapists are unequally distributed throughout the U.S.: many are concentrated in certain regions, leaving other areas with a shortage of available professionals.

What does this labor shortage cost?

These persistent labor shortages lead to higher caseloads for district therapists. High caseloads incur high costs, both directly and indirectly: these professionals often burn out and quit in frustration, districts face recruiting and turnover expenses, and students make slower—or no—progress against their IEP goals and remain in special education longer.

It costs twice as much to educate a student with special needs as a student in general education, and it has been proven that students with special needs drop out at a rate of twice the general education population. These high costs are both unnecessary and unacceptable in today’s world of technology-enabled individualized learning. Schools can now provide these students with practical, affordable access to live, online services via the web. Online therapy can help hundreds of thousands of children get the services they need to thrive academically—and in life.

How do PresenceLearning live, online services work?

Online therapy is very similar to traditional, in-person sessions—except that instead of sitting in the same room, students and clinicians interact via live videoconferencing. PresenceLearning professionals work face-to-face with students in real time, using established best practices and assisted by our best-in-class online tools. PresenceLearning recruits only the best, and ensures they are fully credentialed in your state. Our clinicians handle scheduling, and are available whenever needed. The school district provides an onsite primary support person who facilitates logistics and other needs during therapy sessions.

What technology is required?

All you need is a computer with an Internet connection, an up-to-date browser, a webcam, and an audio headset; PresenceLearning provides webcams and headsets at no extra charge. Our easy-to-use platform is entirely browser-based, and there is no software to install or maintain. Setup is minimal, and is guided by our exceptional implementation team.

Where is PresenceLearning being used?

PresenceLearning is the only company with the experience to offer online services on a large scale. We currently serve a wide range of organizations—in nearly 650 public, charter, and virtual schools plus intermediate service units—in 43 states. Customers include: Medford School District (OR), Bonneville School District (ID), Fresno Unified School District (CA), Southwest Kansas Area Cooperative District 613 (KS) and Commonwealth Charter Academy (PA).

What are some of the benefits of PresenceLearning’s live online services?

The combination of greater access to high quality clinicians, session scheduling, and our industry-leading therapy and reporting tools all lead to positive results.

By providing schools with access to an experienced and diverse pool of available clinicians, PresenceLearning can provide the best possible match between child and therapist. For example, we make it much easier to locate a specialist with the appropriate linguistic or cultural background to suit a diverse groups of students. School districts that have adopted PresenceLearning have found our solution appropriate for many of their students.

What are school districts and families saying about PresenceLearning services?

The feedback we receive is extremely positive. School administrators and special education staff cite benefits such as: higher quality therapists; better student outcomes; savings in recruiting time, hassle, and cost; easy to use technology; and the high quality of customer support.

Are there direct cost savings?

By handling recruiting, contracting, onboarding, and training, PresenceLearning eliminates the headaches and time drain of dealing with attrition and filling vacancies. Our online solution also eliminates travel time and expenses. PresenceLearning simplifies scheduling, automates tracking and reporting, and facilitates auditing and compliance.

What are the benefits for children and their families?

  • Kids love it. Today’s kids have grown up with technology, and in many cases prefer the online environment. They are comfortable with computers, and love our fun, game-based activities. They often find the experience less intimidating than in-person interactions.
  • Parents are happier when their kids are happier.
  • Better communication and reporting. PresenceLearning’s online tools enable parents to log in and observe online sessions, and therapists actively communicate with districts and parents via email and telephone, as well as via videoconferencing in the platform itself.

What are the benefits for clinicians?

  • Convenient work hours with no need to travel. Our professionals serve children nationwide while working from home.
  • One point of contact. PresenceLearning contracts directly with clinicians, simplifying paperwork and payment.
  • Leverages clinician professional experience. Our therapists utilize typical therapeutic practices in an online environment.
  • Simplifies data collection and progress monitoring. Clinicians input notes and progress data during sessions with the click of a mouse—streamlining reporting and communications. They can then easily access these records to review student progress with school administrators, parents, and teachers.
  • Easy-to-manage scheduling for conferences with parents and schools. Our online tools and videoconferencing streamline workflows.
  • More time spent on therapy. Our therapists spend less time driving to sessions, scheduling, tracking, and reporting.

What distinguishes PresenceLearning from other online therapy and special education solutions?

PresenceLearning is the leading provider of live, online therapy to schools nationwide. We have direct access to more than 700 top-tier professionals, and provide the most complete, easy-to-use, cost-effective solution available—including a rich library of online activities for use in therapy sessions, scheduling and progress-tracking tools that streamline program administration, and detailed compliance reporting.

Can you please describe your clinician network?

We contract with a large and growing network of nearly 1000 highly qualified, credentialed clinicians. We only hire the best: we rigorously screen all professionals via extensive interviews and detailed reviews of their experience, credentials, and qualifications. All are provided with professional development on successfully using the platform. As such, when you partner with PresenceLearning, gain instant access to the nation’s top clinicians.

How does PresenceLearning ensure consistent service?

Every child is assigned to an individual clinician who is responsible for that child’s ongoing development. This continuity promotes a trusting and consistent relationship among child, parents, general education teachers, and the therapist. In the event that a child needs a new therapist for any reason, PresenceLearning facilitates a rapid transition with minimal disruption to the child.

What tools does the PresenceLearning platform provide?

The PresenceLearning platform includes a full suite of tools and stimuli, including flashcards, games, worksheets, stories, and an interactive whiteboard. All games and activities support evidence-based practices. Therapists easily adapt these tools to suit each child’s individual needs. The platform employs the latest web-based videoconferencing technology—ensuring reliable, high quality video and audio.

How are children and sessions supervised?

An onsite primary support person (or a parent/learning coach for virtual school students) handles in-person supervision and any hands-on requirements. PresenceLearning helps train these key team members and coordinates with them regularly.

How many children can participate in a session? Can children in multiple locations participate?

Two children can share a single computer for a session led by a single remote clinician or educator. In addition, multi-point videoconferencing enables students to participate from separate locations. Group sessions can accommodate up to four students.

Is live online therapy appropriate for all situations?

Online services are appropriate and beneficial in many situations. In some cases, children may be better served via traditional in-person therapy—for example, children with significant behavioral or cognitive issues that prevent them from using a computer.

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