There are nearly 50 million K-12 students in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. School age children face a myriad of challenges, from sitting still in class and completing homework on time to grappling with learning disabilities and mental health issues. The number of students requiring additional instruction, support or services continues to rise. Over 7 million K-12 public school students are on an Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) to receive additional support, and the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) currently estimates that 1 in 5 children have a mental health disorder. Compounding the problem is limited access to the critical therapy services that can help these students thrive. Countless districts are reporting IEP backlogs that measure in the hundreds and even thousands of students, and estimates say that only 20% of children with a mental health disorder are receiving care from a mental health provider.
Kate Eberle Walker, CEO of PresenceLearning, and her team deeply understand these challenges. The company partners with schools and districts to provide teletherapy ranging from speech-language pathology to mental health services. Nearly 2,000 clinicians work with PresenceLearning, and, to date, they have delivered over 3 million hours of critical care to K-12 students. By working with PresenceLearning, schools get access to the company’s nationwide pool of quality therapists to meet their needs. These needs are often the most acute in low-income and rural areas where clinician supply can be the most limited. PresenceLearning simultaneously improves clinician availability and satisfaction by enabling therapy providers to work schedules that are more congruous with their personal lives and, if interested, work extra available hours.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things about our daily lives, and one meaningful change is comfort with telehealth and teletherapy services. This is no different in the K-12 setting. Through the pandemic, many schools learned that teletherapy delivers equally strong outcomes, and, in many cases, students prefer working with a therapist over the computer rather than in person. It helps that PresenceLearning’s platform is purpose-built to allow clinicians to conduct effective, virtual therapy sessions. They have integrated features like interactive games, worksheets, and digital whiteboarding to drive engagement and help students make demonstrable progress against their goals.
The company also uses its software platform to drive efficiency and impact for the special education and mental health teams it works with who utilize a combination of internal staff and teletherapy to provide care. PresenceLearning helps schools better manage this complexity through software to ensure that students receive the best possible care. The company’s platform has administrative functionality around scheduling, billing, note-taking, and tracking to ease the burden on both clinicians and administrators.
We’ve been following PresenceLearning for nearly a decade and are thrilled to finally welcome it into Spectrum’s portfolio of category-leading companies. Our investment continues our active work around healthcare technology, education technology, and wellness, which includes Headspace Health, GoodRx, and TeachersPayTeachers. We believe PresenceLearning can reshape the way therapy and mental health services are delivered across our education system, improve access to much-needed services, and make a real and lasting impact on the lives of countless students and families. We know that Kate and her team won’t stop until they’ve met their ambitious goal of providing high-quality special education and mental health services to every student in need, and we’re excited to join them in the challenge ahead.