The IEP and special education process can be confusing and stressful. Many parents require a special need advocate to guide them as they seek the best services for their kids. Special education advocates are specialists with experience in special education and advocacy who represent the best interests of a student with a disability in the educational process. Though special education advocates are no attorneys, they can still help parents secure the special education services their kids require.
What do special education advocates do?
They are tasked with a variety of functions to successfully help parents of children with special needs navigate the special education practices and policies. This may include drafting letters to the child study team, reviewing records, participating in mediation, reviewing test results, participating in IEP meetings, making recommendations to improve the IEP, and counseling parents of the next steps. In a nutshell, special education advocates usually act as the link between parents and the child study teams.
When are special education advocates necessary?
Most parents use them when school authorities or other service providers deny their children the treatments, services, or equipment required. When considering whether to involve a special education advocate or not, you should ask yourself why your request for services are being denied. If you believe the service is necessary and valid, you may want to consider consulting a special education advocate for help if you are not getting responses from the school district.
How to find an advocate
Special education advocates come from various professions and all walks of life. There is no formal certification or license, and many of the special education advocates have learned from their own experiences, so this makes it very important that parents interview the advocate they are considering before deciding to work with them. You can find special education advocates through:
- Parent’s state department of education
- When you research online
- Resources in your state
- A counselor or private social worker or a school
- Non-profit organizations serving kids with disabilities
- Referral from other parents
How to determine if an advocate is right for you
When searching for a special education advocate, look for one with experience in your area. And make sure you ask for references about the candidate level of professionalism, knowledge, and effectiveness. In addition, look for an advocate who will be supportive and honest with you and who will be realistic about what services you can get.
Also, ask the advocate about the fee, and have him/her write out exactly what service will be offered for those fees. Lastly, always trust your instincts; if you do not feel comfortable with any particular advocate, you can look elsewhere.
Choosing a special education advocate Florida
If you are looking for an experienced and reliable special education advocate Florida, contact The IEP Advocate. Our experienced and caring administrative staff and advocates will be right there with you throughout the entire process. Since we know what the challenges are like, we will help you get through it. Contact us today.