Facing Budget Cuts
Budget cuts are a reality in school districts throughout the country. This affects everyone in the district, including the SLPs. Recently I received my purchase order forms and directions for the 2010-11 school year and this blog topic came to mind. An SLP friend of mine says, "All a good SLP needs to do therapy is a pencil and a piece of paper." Though this may be true, it is nice to have a few other things. With tight budgets everywhere, how can we SLPs get supplies and materials for the upcoming school year? I have three suggestions—beg, borrow, and steal:
- Beg — There are certain things we must order/buy through speech catalogs and have our districts pay for. The two top priorities when planning your budget are test protocols (since it is illegal to photocopy them) and updated versions of standardized tests you use frequently (since for it to be considered a legally-defendable evaluation, the newest version available of standardized must be used). For 2010-11, the ONLY items I ordered out of my portion of the speech budget were test protocols.
Rather than spending budget money of "cutesy" materials, workbooks, and/or speech prizes/stickers, I suggest getting therapy materials these two ways:
- Borrow — Every good SLP needs good SLP friends from whom to borrow. Does every SLP in your district really need a copy of every standardized test OR can you just borrow it from one another when needed? Same goes for games and other expensive therapy materials. As someone who works with kids who use AAC, I know firsthand how expensive switches, devices, switch toys etc. can be. Ordering just one of these items can pretty much eat up your entire budget. Here in PA I know of several agencies and resources from which I can borrow high-tech and low-tech equipment. Borrow the item and test it out with the students BEFORE spending the district's money since it might not be the best fit for the child anyway. Here in PA we also can borrow therapy books, materials, and programs through state agencies. I am sure with a bit of research SLPs in other states can find "lending libraries" for materials.
There are some limits to borrowing of course (since you always have to give it back at some point), so I have one further suggestion:
- Steal — Not literally, of course. I am talking about finding free or inexpensive therapy materials. With a bit of Web surfing, there are multitudes of free speech worksheets and activities available online. I'm not trying to "advertise" for these but just provide two (of countless) examples. The website Speaking of Speech has tons of Boardmaker materials. I've printed out and used many of their holiday-themed activities. I'm all about not reinventing the wheel. If another SLP has already created it, and it is available online for free, use it!
For you Facebook fans, if you become a fan of Super Duper Publications, they post a free worksheet daily. Another way to "get a steal" on therapy supplies is to look through your own children's out-grown toys/books/games (In my experience, do this when your child is not at home or is sleeping!), hit local yard sales (I've gotten board games with all the pieces as cheap as $1), and shop discount stores. Dollar stores are fabulous for stickers and prizes. A few times a year, my local library has a "bag sale" in which as many books/items you can fit in a paper grocery bag just costs $8. At the most recent one of these sales I attend, I got two board games and about 20 books! The "steals" are out there, you just have to look for them.
How do all of you get the materials you need? Any other great resources to suggest?