This year it has been a revolving door with our support staff. Our well loved interventionist and support worker (she did 2 jobs) went off too complete her masters in Physical therapy, which is amazing for her but not so much for us. Also one of our Special Education Assistants got a new position elsewhere and another interventionist also left for more schooling. This left us needing to fill 4 positions, fortunately our duaghter, who just completed university, filled in temporarily for a couple months which was a huge benefit as she was able to assist with hiring and training but now she is off to her new job.
Advertising, interviewing and hiring is always challenging but even more so when you consider we are looking for someone to work with our very unique family with 10 special needs children, currently at home. We need someone who will work well with our children, support them in successfully meeting their goals and work well with everyone. When we started our parenting journey the most we every needed to do was hire a babysitter here and there. Now that we are homeschooling 9 special needs students, 4 with autism (on top of their other challenges), and have 2 adults requiring support workers it feels like we are running a big business. We are extremely thankful that we have the ability to hire and set up a program to aid in the success of the children but sometimes it is challenging. We have had people applying with none of the skills we are looking for, we have had people not show up for their interview, we have had people accept our offer for employment only to quit before acctually starting, we have had no suitable candidates apply and needed to keep looking and we have had some very skilled prospects.
When looking for employees we use word of mouth and also post ads online describing the position available, education and experience we are looking for and request a resume and cover letter detailing everything. We use these to determine who we consider doing a preliminary phone interview with, before setting up an official interview. During our phone interview we give more details about the job, tell them about all positions we have available (just in case one person could do multiple positions reducing the number of staff), tell them where we are located as sometimes this is an issue and get a brief sense of who they are. At the official interview we meet at a local coffee shop so the interview takes place in a neutral location which has proved to be very beneficial as some people you just don't want in your home or life. During the interview this time is more about getting a sense of who the individual is and whether or not they would be a good fit with our family.
After the interview we do reference and background checks including a criminal record check with vulnerable sector screening. This is a huge must for us and was reinforced for us when we were hiring a particular instructor and he strung us along as we discussed what we were after, scheduled days, up until the finalizing of details where we asked for the criminal record check that we had previously discussed and then he told us that a "court order prevented him from being near children". We do realize that this does not screen out all problems but it does screen out the ones that have already been caught.
So as of today we have all our support positions filled and we can focus on our day to day learning, as well as the learning curve of having new employees. This could change tomorrow but today we will accomplish as much supported learning as possible. How do you find amazing support staff for your special needs individuals?