Do you really want this to be the time you have to go face-to-face with a colleague? Let me address those reasons that many parents think that they do not need a special education advocate. Groups like Decoding Dyslexia and others host workshops and trainings, availability varies by state. But, advocates know the IEP process better than parents. A special education advocate can accompany parents to meetings and assist in the negotiation process between parents and the school. A special education advocate can help you. (not looking for gossip, but experience), What is their involvement in the local special needs community? Do an internet search. Remember, IDEA is only 45+ years old. First, contact the agencies I linked to above, that’s a good starting point. Are there any districts that they won’t work in, and why? Do not communicate with the school unless you’ve discussed it with your advocate. I certainly wish it wasn’t that way. A special education advocate can assist you in understanding dispute resolution procedures, can help you assess the strength of your case and understand your school district’s “climate” as pertains to disputes. What if they would have come to the table with the suggestion that they want to move his placement or remove some services? It is still kinda the wild west out there. For perspective, remember that IDEA was only born in 1975. Now you’re thinking, “Ok, great, you’ve convinced me. So it’s not a profession that has been around a really long time. !” my husband exclaimed. What is their history with your school district? Ask, if that is what you need. Ask your local children’s hospital if they have support groups for your child’s condition, and ask there. (look for volunteer positions, boards, etc. Sometimes a new perspective is all that you need to unlock some successes. There’s no licensing or certification. You collaborate with teachers and guidance counselors on behalf of students and answer to the school’s principal. A good special education advocate can explain the laws and policies to you in a way you can understand. My spouse is there: Not bad, and what most parents do. Some places call them parent mentors, parent partners, parent buddies and so on. ), tries to impress you by using lots of jargon and legalese, just generally talks way above your head, rather than trying to make you feel comfortable, talks about “getting” the school personnel, as in a gotcha or revenge of some kind, rather than getting what your child needs, does not present themselves professionally, or, conversely, repeatedly reminds you of how experienced they are (thou doth protest much). We can objectively analyze the quality of your child’s education program to determine if your child’s needs are being met. 25 Kingston St, 2nd FloorBoston, MA 02111, Many children struggle with remote learning. For me, this was an accidental career. Find an Advocate or Attorney now using our directory. It gives you an ally and is no charge. A special education advocate should know about services and supports which may be helpful for your child and what is available in your geographic area. A special education advocate can refer you to private service professionals who conduct Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs) and which ones work for parents and which ones work for districts. IEP/Special Education Advocacy | Helping You Be a Better Advocate for your Child. There are a few organizations that offer formal training, and some of them call it certification. Special ed training is like that, but too new. By working with children and getting feedback from parents and professionals, we identify system-wide barriers and advocate for new laws while working to enforce existing laws. A special education advocate can review important documents, such as the IEP/IFSP or PWN before you sign them. There is no one program that has emerged as the undeniable ‘best’ leader in training IEP special education advocates. Know your parental rights and tip the scales. They need to be kept in the loop of everything going on. My main goal is teach you how to become a better, more effective advocate for your child. And now the rug has been ripped out from underneath you and your head is swirling and you are struggling to get concise, meaningful thoughts out. Now, where do I find one? And people in that field have opinions on which certification is the “best.”. It was a 12-week course on how to become a Special Education Advocate. I also help parents draft letters and written requests to your school, or ghostwrite the letters for them. I was staring down 20 years of IEP meetings. The career of “IEP/Special Education Advocates” is a relatively new one. We work with students, families, communities, and at the policy level to remove barriers to education for children across Massachusetts. After hearing your story, what is their strategy or plan for you? An IEP advocate should be familiar with different kinds of IEP assessments and reports and explain them to you, or where to find that information (since there are 1000s of different evals). So interview them just like you would any other professional you were hiring: It can vary. Tools to Be a Better Advocate for your Child. But training is available, so I personally would shy away from an advocate who says “well, I’m all self-taught because there just are never trainings in our area.” Sure, easy for me to say that from metro Philly. “Become an IEP/Special Education Advocate!” the flyer said. How long have they been doing this? We were looking at a brochure that my son’s school had sent home to parents. Advocacy Library: Articles Cool Tools Doing Your Homework Ask the Advocate FAQs. I've attended 100s of IEP meetings and trainings and now I'm sharing that information with you. I wish that there was no need for this. Your advocate should recommend IEP evaluations that might be helpful to obtain. MAC is here with resources to help: How long do they expect this to take before it is likely resolved? What if it isn’t ok? Do they have any references in your district who you could call? Wrapping up, of course this is something I wish we didn’t have to do. A special education advocate should know the federal and your state laws pertaining to special education services. A special education advocate can help you prepare for meetings related to your child’s special education program – especially meetings to discuss reevaluations and IEPs or Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs). Yes, and no. You need someone who can listen and not get emotionally involved at that moment. What then? Newsletter Archives Short Course Series Success Stories Tips. If it’s dyslexia, look up decoding dyslexia. And, you will find that most IEP advocates are IEP parents too. I talked my husband into spending the money ($2000 is not chump change to us!) Dads yell. If it’s not going as expected, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and fire the person. Ask questions and go with your gut. You should ask your advocate if they are going to do things. You are going to tell this person your most intimate family things going on–as far as what your child does. There are multiple webinars available online. For you folks with high-functioning kiddos, what if at the meeting they stated that they believe that your child no longer needs/qualifies for an IEP, so let’s move him to a 504.