Children with special learning needs have legal rights to receive special services. The first Student Advocacy steps a parent should take is to understand the system including federal and state mandates and district services that are provided to meet them. Then identify steps required to seek and get the district services and what those services can and should be.

The process of defining an educational plan for children with disabilities is an effort often laden with frustrations, confusion, highly charged emotional situations and disappointments. Unfortunately parents are often presented with a variety of options, and in some instances, not informed of all options available to them or all the rights their child is entitled to. Advocating for your child can become a stressful, confusing and emotional challenge for any parent. Parents often find they are at odds with the school system in advocating for the best possible educational plan for our children. Special needs parents often experience sleepless nights reviewing IEP draft after IEP draft, finding that services are inadvertently missing from one draft to the next, and feeling intimidated and outnumbered at IEP meetings heavily staffed with district personnel. It does not need to be that way.

Researching your rights is important, and when possible, having a knowledgeable advocate with you at district meetings is not only your right but often your best resource for securing the services your child is entitled to. Most administrators are interested in helping you to define your child’s needs and creating an IEP to meet those needs. However, they have to consider budgetary, staffing and resources allocations when reviewing student specific IEP commitments. Their assessment of resources available may not meet your goals for your child’s education. This is the point where Student Advocacy becomes an important component of your childs education.

Educ-Aid provides resources for parents and supporters of children confronting challenges because of disabilities to begin to address these issues in an organized way.

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