The process of special education and IEP procedure can be quite a challenge. Many parents seek guidance from “special needs advocates” when seeking services for their children.
However, how can you choose the appropriate special education advocate for your child?
As far as attorneys are concerned, anyone can claim to be a special education advocate. However, advocates do receive training, but there is no certification or formal licensing. That is why it is so essential to research before hiring a special education advocate.
The following are actions you need to take to choose the right special education advocate for your children.
- Consider why you require a special education advocate.
Before you begin contacting possible advocates, first consider what you require and the purpose of this? Even consider how a special education advocate can assist you with your needs?
For instance, your child has IEP but is not receiving the appropriate services. Or your child’s school informs you that they are not eligible for special education and you are unsure what to do next.
At this point of stress, you will require the assistance of an advocate to provide you with some hand during this time. Moreover, you may require assistance with the general procedure.
So, these are some of the critical points that you need to understand why you need an advocate.
Bear in mind that not all issues need an advocate. For instance, if your child is suspended from school or has been arrested, then you will very certainly require the services of a lawyer rather than an advocate.
In such cases, makes sure that you do some studies and research to clearly distinguish the services between an advocate and a lawyer.
2. Create a list of requirements for your special education advocate.
There are a few “characteristics” that you should look for in a special education advocate. A special education advocate should be knowledgeable about local special education policies.
Moreover, it is also essential for your advocate to establish a positive working relationship with key people in local schools.
These key people or personnel include principals, special education coordinators, and instructors. All of these parameters or requirements may be sufficient enough to suit your requirements.
Moreover, it will also help you to make your requirements based on the issues you’re experiencing. Try to be pretty specific with your needs.
For instance, you may want the assistance of an advocate who has expertise in convincing a school to provide specialized reading training to your child.
You would definitely want your hire advocate to be good at convincing the school to grant your needs that benefit your special child.
The most crucial fact of all, an advocate should accompany you to the IEP meeting. This will assist you while speaking, and you can also create strong and valid points for your child.
3. Prepare a list of potential special education advocates.
Personal recommendations are frequently used to choose an advocate. You can also consider consulting with other parents, family members, friends, and even teachers.
However, always inquire or ask the person why they are recommending a particular special education advocate.
This is because there are times when someone recommends an advocate and does not even guarantee whether that advocate is a good fit for you and your child or not.
If you’re looking for further options, you can also contact organizations like:
- PAC or PTA in your school district
- LDA (Learning Disabilities Association of America)
These are a few organizations that can provide you with the best details regarding the best special education advocate.
4. Take interviews of your short-listed advocates.
After making a few picks or short-listings, try taking interviews of those advocates. This will allow you to judge and have a better idea about the knowledge of these advocates.
So, before hiring one, make sure that you go through these interview procedures to increase your chances of getting a better advocate.
The purpose of these interviews is to determine the advocate’s experience, training, and qualifications. This will also let you know whether the special education advocate will be a good choice for your child.
5. Select an advocate and negotiate.
Following the interviews, you should be in a position to select the advocate with whom you wish to collaborate. This is the moment you should discuss the charge.
Employing an advocate can surely be costly. However, it’s always fine to request a discount or even a more affordable arrangement. Moreover, you can also throw a hint that another advocate charges a cheaper rate.
This is how you can come to a negotiation with your special education advocate and in most cases, there are chances that the advocate would provide you with some discounts. So no need to worry.
Before you begin contacting possible advocates, first consider what you require and what’s the purpose for your hire.
Ensure that the advocate you have short-listed has got all the criteria that can help you in the long run.
Moreover, try to come to a negotiation, or you can even request a discount from your advocate.
After reading this entire blog post, I hope you can choose the best special education advocate for your child.