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Hidden Gems: Meet Total Education Solutions

Today we’d like to introduce you to Total Education Solutions. They and their team share their story with us below:

TES is a privately held company established in 1997 by Dr. Nancy J. Lavelle, who also founded the nationally recognized non-profit Institute for the Redesign of Learning (IRL). From our early start as a consulting and staffing company to charter schools, we expanded our services in California and soon added Michigan and Ohio to our service areas. As we grew, we extended our expertise to include eight multi-specialty pediatric clinics. 

In Michigan, we service over 40 charter schools and 7 local Districts with staffing, compliance, and Specialty School Services. In our Family-Centered Clinic, we provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy, as well as our custom-designed Kindergarten Readiness Program. 

TES Michigan is in its 20th year of operation. We are proud of the fingerprints we have left on the lives we have touched. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
There have been a few bumps in the road along the way. When Dr. Lavelle was approached by the Michigan Association of Public-School Academies (MAPSA) to consider expanding her services in MI, it was at the time when the charter school movement was relatively new to MI. Many charters were accused of refusing students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)/special needs. Our mission was to teach charter schools about the federal law IDEA, assist with setting up programs to meet the needs of children with IEPs, and staff accordingly if necessary. We weren’t well-received at first. TES was also the first company to work with charter schools who specialized in staffing and consulting for special education. We were the experts and our business grew pretty fast. 

As we educated the charter schools via their association, workshops, and contracts, they became more knowledgeable in the area of special education. They started to hire their own staff as the number of students with IEPs grew. At the same time, staffing agencies started to recognize there was a market in placing school staff in charters and they started to expand their services. There was competition for staffing however we were a full-service company (one-stop) so we have been able to hold our own throughout the years. 

TES has also been able to separate ourselves from other companies from the relationships we build, the quality of services we provide, and the trust we establish with our clients. Many of our clients have been with us for over 15 years. We knew we had a strong school base service and we wanted to be able to extend our services. In 2010 we started to explore clinic based services. 

Clinical services required a huge learning curve. Learning about ABA, insurance, billing, Medicaid and the like felt overwhelming at times. We ran into a lot of walls and had to learn a lot by trial and error. Aligning ourselves with Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM) was a huge help. They offered much-needed guidance and support. 

In 2012, MI’s Autism Insurance Legislation passed. Between the passing of that critical legislation, hiring knowledgeable and experienced staff, and securing a prime location, our clinic took off. 

Covid of course has added yet more obstacles to our journey. The most recent being staffing issues. Our business, like everyone else’s, is in need of new hires. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Total Education Solutions/TES Therapy?
Total Education Solutions (TES), also known as TES Therapy, provides customized education and therapeutic services in schools, homes, clinics, communities, and online to children and adults of all abilities. Our mission of empowering individuals of all abilities is at the forefront of every decision we make. 

We offer our school clients services related to special education management, staffing, school governance, fiscal monitoring, professional development, IDEA compliance, and customized solutions. At our family-centered clinics, we offer a variety of therapeutic services for children and adults of all abilities, including those on the Autism spectrum. 

We are committed to expanding and improving services available to our clients. To accomplish this, we utilize a multidisciplinary approach in our training, treatments, and service delivery, encouraging our teams of experienced professionals to work together to create effective solutions and help individuals achieve their goals. 

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
At TES, we look for staff who are entrepreneurial in spirit. It is this mindset that has allowed TES to expand services by taking risks. It also allows our staff to grow into leadership positions. In MI for example, we once tried Home Healthcare Services. We were approached by a Home Health Care company to assist them with staffing occupational therapists (OT). We thought this is great! Only it wasn’t. Our staff would show up at client homes only to be told to go home or to not have the door answered. Even when staff would call ahead to confirm the appointment, clients would still change their minds when our OTs reported for duty. Of course, if therapy wasn’t provided, we didn’t get paid. You can imagine how long that lasted. 

On the other hand, we added specialized service of Cuevas Medek Exercises (CME). Although this therapy technique is not well known, we have seen great success with our clients and are working hard to get the word out there so that we can help more children achieve independence with their motor milestones. We are currently the only therapists in Michigan certified to provide CME therapy. It is a challenge because most doctors don’t know about it to refer clients to us. Our clientele is slowly growing and we believe this is a worthwhile risk when we see the benefit to our clients!

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