Demand for special education staffing for School-Based Services has never been higher. Unfortunately, the availability of Special Education professionals in Wisconsin is lower than it’s ever been.
The end of the school year is a busy time for schools, for a variety of reasons. And while staff and students are working hard to finish the year strong, admins are already looking ahead toward fall. Specifically, they’re putting staffing pieces together, to ensure they can meet student needs next term.
This is crucially important for Special Education Directors—and this year, they’re struggling.
The talent pool is smaller than ever
In January, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) issued a memo addressing the nationwide shortage of Special Education teachers, echoing concerns put forth by the U.S. Department of Education. In it are figures that show a growing disparity between the need for Special Education instruction and the lack of professionals available to provide it.
Wisconsin’s statewide average provider-to-student ratio is far higher than the ratios recommended by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), and the National School Social Work Association (SSWAA). For perspective, the recommended ratio for School Social Workers is 1:250; Wisconsin’s 2023 ratio is 1:1,936.
The problem doesn’t end with Special Education Teachers, either. Pediatric Therapists—which generally operate within Special Education programs—are also in high demand. Occupational Therapy professionals in particular face critical demand, with approximately 400 Occupational Therapists (OT) and 100 Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) to serve almost 10,000 children, according to the Wisconsin DPI.
According to Education Week, “6 in 10 school leaders said their biggest challenge has been finding enough candidates to apply, much less fully qualified ones.” The question many Special Education Directors face today is a simple one.
How do I staff my department caseload for 2023-24?
It’s a question I hear daily—and it falls to me and my team to provide an answer. Thankfully, while the employment landscape appears dire, there are opportunities for special education staffing. It often means looking outside the box, beyond the well-defined channels that are oversaturated with job postings.
Instead of posting to WECAN or commercial career sites, administrators need to be more proactive in going out and getting the talent they need—not waiting for it to come to them. Special Education professionals are out there, and they know they’re in demand. They can afford to pick and choose which positions they apply for, and they’re looking for opportunities that will put them in a position to both do what they love and succeed doing it.
Why not go after those candidates with a message that attracts them to your school, instead of hoping they find your position buried amongst a dozen others?
Working with a staffing provider like MJ Care, Inc. is the best way to do this. School staffing experts bridge the gap between candidates who know what they want and schools that are ready and willing to give them the tools they need to succeed. Filling positions no longer feels transactional; it becomes a conversation—one that Special Education Directors are desperately looking to have before the school year ends.
Start planning for the 2023-24 school year
School staffing challenges are only getting more difficult, and administrators will continue to find themselves short staffed unless they change the way they approach finding, vetting and hiring candidates. These positions can’t afford to go unfilled. The real question is, are you ready to try something different to secure the staff your students need?
Need a helping hand with Special Education staffing for the 2023-24 school year? Let’s talk.