If you have a child receiving speech services through your public school, you may be surprised to learn that he or she is only receiving 20-30 minutes of therapy a week, and that time is often shared with other students.

Why is this the case?

  1. High caseloads nationwide.  There are some exceptions, but generally caseloads are extremely high across the United States. Because there are so many kids to treat, your school speech-language pathologist (SLP) may have minimal time to see kids.  She also may have to put them in groups for therapy.  This is due to several factors:
    1. Shortage of qualified SLPs with master’s degrees
    2. Budget restrictions implemented by school districts
    3. Over-qualification of some children who have mild speech errors

What can you do about these issues?

  1. You can contact your school district administrators to let them know you’d like an emphasis to be placed on hiring sufficient SLPs to meet the caseload demands.
  2. You can support your school SLP by practicing at home with your child as much as possible.
  3. If your child has a mild speech error, and the IEP team feels it is not severe enough to affect his educational environment academically or socially, you can be supportive of the decision and work with your child at home and hire a private therapist, if necessary.


  1. Paperwork – School SLPs must deal with ever-increasing special education and Medicaid paperwork due to new regulations. Filling out paperwork, sending it home, taking data, writing progress reports, filling out forms for Medicaid – these things all take up a large chunk of your school SLP’s time.

What can you do to help?

  1. It will help your local SLP if you return signed paperwork promptly.  😉


  1. Meetings – Did you know that an SLP with 70 kids on her caseload has at least 70-100 IEP-related meetings to attend each year? These are usually held before and after school, and require coordinating the schedules of all 3-5 IEP team members. In addition, your SLP may have Child Support Team meetings to discuss with teachers and administrators which kids might potentially need services.  Then there are faculty meetings and other types of meetings to attend.  All this eats into your school SLPs workday.

What can you do to help?

  1. You can help by being flexible when your child’s SLP is attempting to schedule IEP meetings. Review paperwork ahead of time when possible and have your information and questions ready so that the IEP meeting can run efficiently.


  1. Testing – It is not uncommon for a school SLP to do hearing screenings for all the kindergarten through 3rd grade students each year, as well as speech and language screenings for many other students who have been referred with potential issues. Those kids who don’t pass speech screens have to go through an intervention process which requires extra paperwork and time, coordinating things with the classroom teacher.  Once that is done, there are multiple speech and language tests to be given to the student to see exactly what the issues are and what his current levels are.  Often there are several hours of testing to be done for new students, and this usually must be repeated every 3 years that the child is receiving services.

What can you do to help?

  1. Again, it will help your local SLP if you return signed paperwork promptly and communicate as much info as you can about your child’s issues. You can ask for speech homework for your child, and practice with him as much as possible.


  1. Scheduling Conflicts – The school SLP must treat kids when their class isn’t working on core subjects like English, math and science. Each grade has different times when they do that.  In addition, there are other things like recess, art, PE, library, reading and lunch consider.  Juggling all these things for 70 students can become a scheduling nightmare.  Often, kids need to be grouped together just to be seen during free periods.

What can you do to help?

  1. Encourage your student and the classroom teacher to support the SLP’s attempts to schedule your child during open slots. Be supportive if sometimes this might bump into a ‘fun’ activity.

I hope this video helps you understand the challenges of school-based speech therapy, and what you can do to help.

If you’d like to learn more about how to help your child with speech at home, please check out my online courses HERE.

Thanks and have a great day!