This a brief explanation to schools and programs regarding our Virtual Consultant services and especially, Index, Reviews of Schools and Programs, our Gradings and Ratings, and our Search Function. Quality schools and programs are invited to use our service at no cost to themselves to get the word out about what they offer.
Historically, this has been a website (original homepage) with information about our practice as a special needs consulting firm, and information about schools and programs to which we might refer. Initially this was an advertising effort for our consulting service.
In 2012 we made the decision to develop an online consulting service for a fee. That necessitated a new format for our website, so almost all current updates whether in the "Members' Area" (pay to access) or the "Public Area" (free) will be in the new format. We call the online consulting service "Virtual Consultant." Historically, we have posted reviews of programs in a manner that makes them publicly accessible. Prior existing reviews remain publicly available. New pages that are essential to Virtual Consultant are usually available only to paid members (and officials of any organization being described or discussed) with a publicly available introduction to that page. An exception to that are "Search Posts," part of our Search Function, that are similarly restricted but with no public introduction page.
Schools and programs do not pay for participation. Our revenue is generated from families using the site. This is to minimize perceived conflict of interest. Reviews and Gradings and Ratings reflect our opinion. By contrast, information entered into our search function is generally consistent with how the schools and programs want to be perceived although we reserve the right to enter what we feel comfortable with being responsible for. We will not knowingly publish objectively false information. Our Index is, to the best of our knowledge, a complete listing of schools and programs that serve non-local people with special needs supported by private payment. The Index is publicly accessible and we have no plans to change that. If your school or program is not listed there, and it fits those criteria, tell us and we will add it. At the very least that listing should include a link to your program's website.
We are not hesitant about criticizing practices we object to or disagree about. Such criticisms are never for the purpose of doing harm or trying to force a program to close. They are for the purpose of alerting our readers as objectively as possible regarding what they will encounter in a particular school or program. Frequently we will discuss with a school or program criticisms we are considering before posting. In all cases, if a program discovers factual errors in what we write, we will correct our information. Schools and programs are always welcome to post their own comments about anything we post about them, including if their comments are extremely negative about what we are doing. They may post on any topic they want but references to other schools, programs, organizations and individuals must comply with our rules for posting. If it is about their own program we will be allow anything they write consistent with public standards of appropriate good taste.
We encourage you to familiarize yourselves not only with information specifically about your school or program but also our contribution to discussion topics that relate to your work. For example, if you work with addicted clients, you would probably do well know something about our understanding of addictions.
We have tried to avoid "ambushing" programs with a negative review. However programs that have not responded to us when we have attempted to discuss a problem will not get advance warning before we post our criticisms. As we move forward and schools and programs know we are here, we will become less quick to alert programs in advance when we criticize. Ultimately it is your responsibility to monitor what is here that affects you.
Virtual Consultant will offer resources other than those mentioned above. These will influence referral patterns. Programs being reviewed may find it to their advantage to familiarize themselves those pages and again, enter their own comments whether in agreement and support or to refute our opinion. To learn more about this, go to Virtual Consultant.
For those schools and programs that want to be reviewed and entered into our search function, you can move up the queue by assisting us in getting the information to do so. We cannot give a guaranteed formula. We are usually several months behind on getting reviews published and search data entered for those schools and programs that have done so. We reserve the right not to follow the exact order that would be suggested by the order in which information was provided, but it does make a difference.
The following are actions a program can take that will move your school or program up the queue to be reviewed, rated, and put into the search function. It will make us more likely to alert you to planned criticisms before they appear for public or member access. Doing this will not lead to a more positive review or positive Gradings and Ratings entry. It only influences the timing.
- Appoint a person in your organization that is our accessible contact person to get the information we need and to answer questions we might ask.
- List the points about your program that you want to be sure we consider in a review. We will still decide what to print but it will prevent us from accidentally omitting something important to you.
- Clarify your ownership.
- Pay dollar for dollar expense for a FamilyLight visit to your program. (Do not provide entertainment or benefits not necessary to travel and seeing the program in operation)
- Go through the list of search items and tell us which you think apply to your school or program as Categories and as Tags. (See information below about the Search Function)
If your want to take advantage of this option, email us or phone us to get the process started. Whether you assist us getting information on your programs, we offer programs and schools the following:
- As stated above, you may call to our attention attributes that you want us to consider when reviewing your program and considering how to report you in Gradings and Ratings. (It is still our choice what to say, but we will think about your suggestions before deciding what to write. This also helps to prevent us from overlooking something important by accident).
- If we write something that includes a factual error, point it out and we will correct it.
- If you disagree with what we attribute to your school or program in our search function, we will usually change that according to your wishes. We generally want the search function to conform to the manner in which you want your program reported. That is not a place where we generally intend to enter our opinions. But we do want to be comfortable that we are meeting our responsibility to the public in what we enter. To better understand how to work with our Search function, please see below -- immediately following this numbered list.
- If you disagree with our opinion about your school or program as stated in our review, you may write a rebuttal and we will publish it. We will also consider your comments and consider revising, but ultimately that choice is ours. Short of unacceptable language, whatever you write about yourselves will be published no matter how much we may disagree. However if what you write refers to another person or organization, you must adhere to our Rules for Members. Actually, we will also publish any comments in good taste from you about your program that you want to attach to our review of your program. Your comments on our review are welcome even if not a "rebuttal."
- Be assured that criticisms we offer are to ensure that families see both strengths and weaknesses and to encourage improvements in schools and programs. No criticism is ever offered to be destructive or to cause programs to close. Any criticized program can resolve the criticism through communication with us.
Search Function: Unlike Reviews and Gradings and Ratings we generally want our search function to reflect how programs want to be perceived. We suggest you read carefully our description of our Search Function before you read any more on this page. Make sure you understand "Categories" and "Tags" as we use those terms. Then read what follows.
We invite you to verify that we describe your school or program accurately, as you want it described, in our Search Function. If we have already entered search information about your organization, you can find what we have entered by looking for the "Search Post" with your program's name on it. Make sure you are signed into the "member" area, then use the search function left side of your screen, second cell from the top. If your school or program does not appear as a result of that search, we have not yet entered your group into the search function. If we did create a search post about your school or program, tell us where we are right and where we made mistakes. If we have not done that, go to our four pages with the lists of possible categories and tags, then tell us which you think apply to your school or program. You can find the categories and tags on the pages detailed below:
Access to any part of the search function requires paid membership. Our current practice is to provide access to the areas generally open only to paid members to schools and programs so they can see anything being said about them.
Let us know any suggestions, questions, and/ or concerns you have. Tell us if you want to expedite entry about inclusion of information about your school or program. If you are unsure of how to communicate with us use the comment box below, leaving your contact information with us. Begin your comment with the words "Private Message." We will not allow that comment to post publicly but we will follow up with you. Or you may email to tcroke at familylight dot com.
Last updated June 10, 2016