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FAQ's About Psychological Evaluations

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  1. What is a psychological evaluation?
  2. Why can't we get this information just from observing a child?
  3. What should I do if I think my foster child needs an evaluation?
  4. Who does the evaluation?
  5. How long does the evaluation take?
  6. When are the evaluations done?
  7. How do I prepare my child?
  8. Is there anything I should do?
  9. How long does it take for the child to be scheduled and the evaluation completed?
  10. What if I have questions after reading the report?


What is a psychological evaluation?

A psychological evaluation is a compilation of tests that gives us information about a child's level of functioning.  Presidio offers psychological evaluations that cover both cognitive and emotional functioning.  A COGNITIVE evaluation looks at the child's potential to understand and apply new information.  For example, if a child is not doing well in school, they may have limited ability to learn, or a learning disability, or an emotional problem (or all three).  A cognitive evaluation will help to shed light on what the child is needing to be successful.

An evaluation of PERSONALITY or EMOTIONAL functioning looks at how a child is functioning on an emotional level.  For Example, you may have a child in your home who is always oppositional.  This can be due to a number of factors.  It may be that the child is very angry and does not know how to express it.  It may be that the child is depressed and it acting angry because they do not understand why they are feeling bad.  It could also mean that they child is fearful or doesn't know how to form relationships.  A psychological evaluation will shed light on the underlying feelings, so you as the care giver will have more information on how to deal with their behavior.

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Why can't we get this information just from observing a child?

Children act out in many different ways.  One child may show their depression through throwing things, another child may show their depression through withdrawing.   The evaluation gives us a way to understand the individual behavior of the child and what the behaviors mean for that particular child.

By the same token, children have a hard time telling people when they just don't get what their teacher is saying.  Very often they will act out instead.  A cognitive evaluation helps us to understand when a child is acting out and when they just don't understand.  Furthermore, a cognitive evaluation helps to give us some direction on whether a child needs special education or whether they just need extra help with homework every night.

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What should I do if I think my child/foster child needs an evaluation?

Contact your child's treatment coordinator (Presidio Co-Parents), caseworker or therapist.  Your child may have had an evaluation done recently and your treatment coordinator, caseworker or therapist can give you a copy.  If the child has not had an evaluation, the treatment coordinator will make a referral to the Presidio team, who will determine if the child needs an evaluation and what type of evaluation the child needs.  very often, the Presidio treatment team has reviewed each child's case and determined if he/she needs an evaluation, prior to the child's placement.  However, children's needs change, and your input is always valuable.

If you are a parent in search of answers regarding your possibly needing an evaluation, feel free to contact our main office anytime and you will be put in contact with someone who can help you.

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Who does the evaluation?

All evaluations are done by professionals experienced in testing and child development.   The American Psychological Association has developed guidelines establishing qualifications necessary to complete a valid psychological evaluation.  Presidio closely follows these guidelines.

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How long does and evaluation take?

Evaluations are only done once a week.  They can take anywhere from two to six hours.  Most children cannot handle more than three to four hours of testing at one time.  Your child's evaluation may be done one day a week for two to three weeks.

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When are the evaluations done?

Children are generally at their best when they test in the morning.  This will always mean that they miss several hours of school.  The information obtained from a psychological evaluation, however, is of vital importance to the child's treatment, and therefore must take precedence over school activities.

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How do I prepare my child?

Children generally enjoy evaluations, because they are getting a good deal of individual attention.  Parts of the evaluation consist of tasks children generally find enjoyable, such as drawing, puzzles, and making up stories.  At the same time, they will probably be tired after the evaluation, just because they are spending so much time interacting with one adult.  It is best to tell them that the evaluation is made up of a bunch of activities, and a lot of them are fun.  Furthermore, tell them this is something that gives us information on how the child is doing, and on what their strengths are, so that we all know how to help them better.

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Is there anything I should do?

Try to make sure the child gets a good night's sleep before the evaluation, and eats a good breakfast on the day of the evaluation.  This will help them to focus their attention, leading to results which are a better reflection of their functioning.   The child should also bring a snack, since we will be taking breaks during the evaluation.  The evacuation will take place in an office setting.  The child should be brought to the evaluation by the care giver.  The care giver does not, however, have to stay throughout the evaluation.  Just arrange with the evaluator a good time to pick the child up.

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How long does it take for the child to be scheduled and the evaluation completed?

Since evaluations are done one day per week, you may have to wait two to four weeks before the child is scheduled.  This is why it is VERY important to keep these appointments, and to make every attempt to be flexible with your family's schedule.   Once the evaluation is completed, it will take two to three weeks before the report is completed.  If you need a report more quickly (for example, for medication questions, a court date, or a school conference), you must let the evaluator know.   We will try to accommodate these deadlines, but are not always able to do so.   The evaluator may be able to give verbal results of the evaluation to the appropriate person, if necessary.

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What if I have questions after reading the report?

The evaluation is a tool to help you as the care giver understand you child's needs.   If you have question, call your evaluator to have them answered.  Messages can be left at the Presidio office, at 303-432-2298 or 1-888-303-8768.

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If you have further questions, or if you are interested in utilizing our Psychological Evaluation Services, please contact our main office by phone 303-432-2298, FAX 303-432-2297, e-mail or by mail:7651 W. 41st,   Avenue, Ste.# 200, Wheat Ridge 80033

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This page last update: 10/04/02