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Powerpoint parenting plans for children with special needs


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Children who have special needs require specialized parenting plans that reflect the child's unique capacity to make transitions, to have health care needs met, and to have therapeutic services provided in each home.

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Powerpoint parenting plans for children with special needs

  1. 1. Divorce: Creating Parenting Plans for Children with Special Needs Created and Presented by Brenda McCreight Ph.D.
  2. 2. What is a parenting plan…  A written agreement that can be made with our without the help of legal professionals  Parenting Plans (aka PP’s) outline how the divorcing parents will share the ongoing parenting of the child or children  PPs include: - how decisions about the child will be made - how information will be shared between parents - the time the child will spend with each parent - how the child will be transferred between parents -child support, medical care, education, religion, leisure etc.
  3. 3. Child centered…  A parenting plan should reflect the interests and needs of the child, not the parents  A parenting plan can reduce conflict between parents by setting out clear guidelines and expectations
  4. 4. Every plan is unique…  There are some basic items in most PPs, but each is unique and will be based on the child’s age, health, developmental stage and any unique factors  The wishes of older children may be considered
  5. 5. Standard parenting plan items….  Parental responsibilities: The responsibility of the parents to make decisions about the child’s life. These can include decisions about daily care, as well as larger ones about health care, education, religious upbringing, extracurricular activities, etc. Will one parent have primary responsibilities or will it be shared?  Parental relocation (What if one parent proposes to move? What if one parent proposes to move with the child? How much notice should be given e.g. 30, 45, 60 days? How will notice be given e.g. e-mail, letter? Will consent of the other parent be required when the move of a child is proposed? How will parenting arrangements be affected?)
  6. 6. More…  Communication with child while with the other parent (phone, e-mail, pictures, Skype?)  Altering the parenting schedule for things such as illness, lateness, social events, special occasions, unforeseen events. How will schedule changes be managed? How much notice of the change is required? Will there be make-up time?  Transferring the child’s belongings between homes. (Will the child have two sets of some items? Who will purchase which items for your child?)  Child's social life (How will the child spend time with friends? Who will take the child to social events such as birthday parties or sleepovers? Who will buy gifts for the child to give?)
  7. 7. And more…  Vacation, holidays and special days such as Mother’s Day and child’s birthday  Health care  Education  Extra-curricular activities (can both parents attend and who pays?)  Religion  Culture  Contact time with grandparents, step siblings and extended family
  8. 8. And more…  Communication between parents  Altering the parenting plan  A plan for resolving disagreements  Other parenting issues  Child and spousal support  The content, complexity and detail of the PP will depend on the needs and relationships of the child and parents. High conflict couples may have very detailed PPs
  9. 9. Special needs…  There are many, many forms of behaviors and conditions that can be considered *special needs*.  These are generally categorized as a) medical issues; b) behavior issues c) learning issues; d) mental health issues; e) developmental issues. Some of the conditions that would be included in these categories are:  Autism  Attachment Disorder  Bi-polar disorder  Down Syndrome  Cancer
  10. 10. A few more…  Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder  Muscular Dystrophy  Heart conditions  Eating disorders  Schizophrenia  Schizo-affective disorder  Substance abuse/addiction  Chronic rages
  11. 11. And more…  Conduct Disorder  Chronic depression/mood disorders  Central auditory processing  Sensory processing  Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder  Neurodevelopmental challenges resulting from early neglect and/or abuse  Oppositional Defiant Disorder  Many, many more
  12. 12. What’s different?  Children with special needs require special parenting plans  The professional who is undertaking the PP doesn’t need to be an expert in the condition of the child, but should be prepared to immediately learn as much as possible and be prepared to consult with experts  The parents have likely incorporated medical or psychological terminology into their everyday vocabulary and the professional needs to learn those words asap and may have to include them in the final PP document  Finances may be particularly complicated due to how the separation impacts entitlement to tax breaks, to financial aid, to support services, to spousal and child support beyond the age of majority
  13. 13. First questions …  Is there an official diagnosis? Do each of the ex-spouses agree on the diagnoses?  Who made the diagnosis?  Does the child have an education plan in place? Supports?  Has any testing been done? By whom?  Is the condition ‘curable’ or treatable? Is the child expected to improve? Is the condition terminal?  Is there a medical condition attached to the developmental or behavioural issue?  If this is a mental health or behavioral condition – what therapists and what therapies are in place? Do the parents agree on these?
  14. 14. The second set of questions…  Are there any special financial needs?  Are these special and additional expenses reimbursed by the state/province, private insurance, or the board of education?  Are they ongoing, recurring, non-recurring?  Are there any anticipated future expenses?  What is the child’s daily schedule? Who organizes and maintains this schedule?  Can the needs of the identified child be met with the same arrangements as the needs of the other children in the family?
  15. 15. Third set of questions…  Does the child have issues with transitioning between one environment to another?  What are the dietary special needs? Can both parents manage these? Who pays for them?  Are there medications? How are they administered and by whom? Who pays for them?  Is there any special training or extraordinary time commitment one parent needs to have vs. another parent?  How does the child with special needs impact the other child(ren) in the family?  What are the special financial resources needed for the other non-special needs children due to the special needs child requiring so much attention?
  16. 16. Example 1…  - Example: Sam Jones and Sarah Jones have 4 children. Three are neurotypical - Emily age 12, Dawson age 10 and Joey age 8. Angie, age 11, has severe autism and requires support workers 2 hours a day in the home and all day in the school setting. She goes to respite one weekend a month and is often hospitalized for self harming behaviors. Jim wants shared parenting responsibilities with the 3 neurotypical children alternating residences on a weekly rotation but he only wants one Saturday a month with Angie in his care. Sarah never stopped working part time as a dental hygienist and she wants the same shared parenting for all 4 children so that she can continue working.
  17. 17. For discussion… 1) Which parent has historically managed Angie’s primary care? 2) Which parent has managed the medical and other supports for Angie? 3) To which parent does Angie best respond? 4) Can Angie make the same transitions between homes as her siblings? Can Angie manage transitions from one home to the other? 5) Will the support staff work in both homes? 6) How will the change in parental income effect any financial supports that are provided? 7) What is the long term impact on spousal and child support if Angie is not able to become independent in adulthood?
  18. 18. And… 7) If there is special equipment in the home or the car, can it be transferred between homes on a regular basis? 8) What are the plans for the times when Angie won’t comply to the transfer between parents? 8) What do the siblings want? 9) Is Angie able to give an opinion on what she would like? 10) Can either parent manage Angie alone for any length of time?
  19. 19. Example # 2 …  Jim and Martha have 2 children – Marcus age 10 and Jonas age 9. Jonas has Muscular Dystrophy which requires a special bed, breathing equipment, a complicated medication procedure, and a wheelchair . The separation resulted in the sale of the family home and Martha has temporarily moved with the children into the large home of her parents. Martha has been the main caregiver and has not worked out side of the home since Jonas was born. Jim has rented a small apartment nearby. The living arrangements are expected to change when the financial part of the divorce is settled. The couple are experiencing high conflict on the financials and there is no resolution in sight. Jim wants both children two evenings a week and every other weekend. Martha would welcome the break but doesn’t think Jim has a clue about how to care for Jonas so she isn’t willing to agree to his request at this time, but may when some of her concerns are addressed.
  20. 20. Discussion…  Should this be a final PP or an interim PP?  What is the capacity of either home to physically manage Jonas’ medical equipment? To manage the transfer of the equipment?  What does Jim understand about Jonas’ needs?  If Jim’s knowledge base isn’t adequate - What is Jim willing to learn about Jonas’ needs? Can he identify a learning plan?  What are the long term spousal and child support implications? Tax implications? etc
  21. 21. Example # 3…  Donna and Jason adopted 12 year old Hayden when he was 7 years old. Hayden has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Attention Hyperactivity Disorder, and Reactive Attachment Disorder. He presents severe behavioural challenges and his therapist recently stated that she is concerned that he may be in the early stages of Conduct Disorder  The ex-spouses would like to share parenting responsibilities with a 50/50 split transitioning on alternate weeks.  The ex’s have settled the financial aspects of the agreement.
  22. 22. Discussion…  How well does Hayden manage transitions?  Do both parents understand the diagnoses?  Do both parents have appropriate parenting strategies?  How will being separated from one parent for a week at a time impact Hayden’s attachment challenges?  Should the therapist be consulted?  Are there ways to keep Hayden connected to the non-resident parent? Does he need to be connected?
  23. 23. Summary…  *Special needs* includes a large number of conditions that might be categorized as medical, mental health, behavioral, learning, developmental, or a combination of any  Children with special needs require detailed and condition specific Parenting Plans  Children with special needs may require a parenting arrangement that is different from that of the siblings  The professional undertaking the Parenting Plan should become familiar with the condition and with the jargon and be prepared to consult an expert  Financial aspects of this kind of PP can be very complex and detailed and may need to change substantially over time
  24. 24. Parenting plan templates…  I have provided these as a resource. This is neither an endorsement nor a criticism of any of these.  m.pdf  ent/familylaw/parentingplanworksheetfillablever6tabtestwithlin ksver8savable10-7-08.pdf  an_july_1_2014.pdf  Parenting_Plan_Tool.pdf
  25. 25. Thank you for sharing this time with me…  You can contact me at the following:  Email Phone 250-716-9101  Or via my websites:    Hazardous Parenting Facebook page  LinkedIn  Please check out some of my other Powerpoint presentations at
  26. 26.  Brenda McCreight Ph.D.  Reg. Clinical Social Worker # 4399  Reg. Clinical Counsellor # 235  Reg. Professional Counsellor & Psychotherapist # 1126  Certified> Family Mediation  Certified> Conflict Resolution  Certified> Divorce Coach