Advocacy and Learning Disabilities The need for Human Services professionals to assist parents in advocating for their children to receive appropriate services and to assist in the process has become a necessary task. This paper will discuss the role of the advocate in assisting parents through the difficult process of an IEP and to ensure that the child receives the services and resources needed at the school. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation.
IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6. 5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities (IDEA, 2004). Since most parents are not familiar with any of the laws this places more pressure on parents to fight for the needs of their children, and may always requires assistance from an advocate. The IDEA process follows a child through graduation; therefore, making certain the process is done fairly, the parents are then told that they may request an advocate if needed (IDEA, 2004).
Advocates Advocates are helpful to parents and guardians who have a child with disabilities as they attempt to find their way around the complicated system. Advocates will ensure that the proper services and resources are readily available to meet the goals and needs of the child with the disability or special needs. An advocate will first assist the parents in obtaining any written statements from the child’s file and will try to gain access to the student records. The parents have the right to review the records under the law (IDEA, 2004).
Schools are rarely compliant; therefore, the advocate will help the parent to write letters to achieve the best results. When the advocate has the records, then both advocate and parents can review them to see if anything might be missing. As the informed person, the advocate knows how to read the records, and decide how the school is thinking of the child in question. If the school does not have the correct information, then the advocate will make it a point to correct the information in the file.
The advocate will make certain the parents change anything which is misrepresented, erroneous, or infringe upon the rights or privacy of the child. If anything in the records is shown that was to remain confidential but somehow was written in the records then the advocate should make sure it is removed from the record. Once told, the school must immediately make certain the information is removed from his record. If anyone has read the records prior to this being removed then they must sign a confidentiality statement.
Evaluation The advocate then will make sure the child receives the proper and complete evaluation to ensure that every available resource and service is provided. The advocate will also inform the parents to pursue an additional independent evaluation under the law. This will be helpful in establishing the best IEP for the child. Since the parents, child, staff, and teachers all use the IEP as a reference point, this is a legal document they all should stick to. IEP
After the evaluation comes the IEP meeting where everyone comes together and the advocate should prepare the parents before the meeting. The advocate will also be present at the meeting with the parents, since the IEP meeting is sometimes a cluster of so many people present, the parents might get intimidated so having the advocate there to take notes, and to listen intently to the conversation, and to ensure nothing is missed or misunderstood by the parents or guardians. The presence of the advocate is also to ensure the rights of the child and the parents are guaranteed under IDEA.
When the first IEP meeting ends, the parents must determine at the conclusion of the meeting if the proposed IEP is one sufficient to meet the needs of their child. If the parents state they want to proceed with what was initiated during the meeting, the school will within a few days issue a written notice where they state why they approved and why they denied certain aspects of the parent’s proposal. If the school does not send the written notice in the appropriate time, the advocate and the parents will go to the school and request it. Once received, if no changes are made, then the IEP is considered final.
Conclusion The need for advocates has become more widespread since there seems to be a continuing increase in the problems parents are facing is getting the appropriate services approved for their child. As this trend continues, the only thing to assume is the use of advocacy will continue to grow and grow. Therefore, the experienced advocate will assist parents in securing the services and resources the child truly needs. References U. S Department of Education (2010). IDEA, 2004. Retrieved July 3, 2010 from http://idea. ed. gov/explore/home