Kathy Wheat: Funding SLP Assistant Programs

>>I want to tell
you how it came about that we received
funding for the implementation, training, and use of speech
language pathology assistance in the state of Oklahoma. What we decided was is
that an SLPA program, with academic rigor and a clinical experience
was what we needed to address the shortages of
speech language pathologists in the state, and to provide
quality speech language services for students, clients,
and patients. With that we wrote two grants
to the Department of Labor. We partnered with the University
of Oklahoma for the first grant, and with Oklahoma City Community
College for the second grant. I’d love to tell you they both
were funded, but they weren’t. The important piece
of that story is that we didn’t stop there. What we did at that point was
we regrouped, we rethought, we talked about strategy,
and we decided to approach the State Department
of Education for funding for a pilot year of the program. It — it just so happened
that a colleague of mine and I were teaching a course for the State Department
of Education. We broke for lunch, we
walked out to the lounge, we were having a
discussion, and in the middle of that discussion I said
want to run something by you. Do you think that
the State Department of Education might
provide funding for a speech language
pathology assistance program? There was a small
period of silence, and the Assistant
School Superintendent for Special Education at that
time with the State Department of Education looked at us and
said, I think we can do that. And at that juncture
what we were asking for was 250,000 dollars. After my colleague and I pulled
ourself up off the floor, we got excited, and we hit the
ground running with designing and implementing
the pilot program for the speech language
pathology assistance. We secured a college
to house the program — Oklahoma City Community Colleges
— College houses that program, and we were off and running. In sum — in Oklahoma what we
did was we identified a concern, we designed and implemented
a speech language pathology assistance program with funds from the State Department
of Education. And what I want to
talk about now for just a second
are the benefits. What are the benefits? The benefits are incredible
for the state of Oklahoma. We — the shortage, recruitment, and retention issue
will be addressed with the implementation of speech language
pathology assistance, districts will benefit from speech language
pathology assistance, as well as healthcare studies with speech language
pathology assistance. Our program is an all online
program, and so the students that come and be a part
of our program benefit, because they will be allowed
to further their education in their residential
settings within a stable home. Rural areas will be addressed,
and there will be gains in — in both public school
and healthcare settings. What’s important for
me today to tell you is that you can do it too. What Oklahoma did is
not special to Oklahoma. It takes you identifying
a need, and being willing to move forward, put the work
in, and find those individuals that have the resources
to give you what you need. If Oklahoma can do
it, you too can do it.

2 thoughts on “Kathy Wheat: Funding SLP Assistant Programs”

  1. OMG! Wow someone who really cares about the future of Speech language pathology. There are so many assistants that what to be SLP's what a wonderful opportunity.

  2. I love that this initiative addresses the overwhelming need for speech and language services while also giving those with only undergraduate degrees an employment option if graduate school is not a possibility. I know so many people who received their bachelor's degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and are unable to work! It seems unbalanced and I hope to be a voice of change. I too have my bachelor's and while I was lucky enough to land a job, it is only legal for 2 years unless I enroll in graduate school for SLP. Things need to be shifted and I love this angle! Thanks for sharing!

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