What Is A Special Education Advocate And What Do They Do?

A special education advocate is a trained professional who helps parents during the IEP process to ensure that their child receives the most benefit from the IEP plan that the team will create. The advocate helps guide parents through the IEP process, reviews the testing that was completed, participates in designing goals to meet the student’s specific needs, reviews progress toward the goals, and advocates for their child’s IEP plan to get the most effective services for their child. 

Advocates are not licensed attorneys but serve as specialized mentors who can help guide you through your child’s IEP journey.

The IEP process can be long and it can seem complicated as you consider what the best options for your child will be. 

Advocates can help with answering questions about the legal aspects of the IEP, preparing you for the IEP meetings, attending the IEP meetings with you, evaluating the IEP plan the team suggests, negotiating changes to specific pieces of the plan, and helping resolve disputes that may occur.

You may have found that your child’s IEP isn’t working or that your child has met the goals that were set in place and is ready for revised goals. You may agree with some of the goals the team proposes and disagree with other goals. Your advocate can give you the steps you need to take during the IEP process to handle specific issues so your child receives the best services for meeting his/her needs. 

To find out if a special education advocate is right for you and your child, you need to understand their role in the IEP process and how they can help improve the outcome of your child’s progress in school.

The IEP process begins with an IEP team meeting to discuss your child’s progress in school. The team members usually consist of the classroom teacher, resource teachers, the school psychologist, principal or counselor, and the parents. This meeting determines whether your child will qualify for testing by the school district psychologist. If the district proceeds with the testing, your child will meet with the district psychologist for in-depth testing to measure your child’s current ability levels. You will be given the results of the testing to review and an IEP meeting time will be set to review the testing and design a plan to help your child.

What Is A Special Education Advocate?

A special education advocate is a  professional who will guide you through the IEP process to make sure your child is getting the best help and resources available to them from your school district and teachers. They assist parents in a variety of ways, including:

  • Answering questions that parents may have about the IEP process and special education laws 
  • Attending triennial, yearly, and other IEP meetings with the parent
  • Resolving disputes with the school and IEP team 
  • Setting up goals that are appropriate and challenging
  • Reviewing documents and assessments to ensure the child is progressing and meeting goals

Because each advocate is unique and will offer different services, it’s essential to know exactly what you need from your advocate to choose the right advocate for your child. Maybe you just need additional information about the process and have some questions about special education laws. Or perhaps you need someone more involved in the process, going with you to meetings, resolving disputes, and taking a more hands-on approach to ensure that you and your child receive all the help you both need.

How To Find A Special Education Advocate For Your Child

When you are researching the right advocate for you, there are resources that can help you.

  • Network with other parents who have gone through the IEP process with their child
  • Look for a non-profit organization that will help you find an advocate free of charge
  • Reach out to the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)
  • Reach out to your state’s Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center
  • Reach out to the Office of Special Programs in the State Department of Education

While some of these organizations, like the district’s special education department, may not be able to provide specific recommendations, they may be able to provide other advice or information about organizations that can help.

Hardy Brain Training Can Help Your Child Succeed In School

We understand the desire to seek additional assistance for your child’s education,. Hardy Brain Training is successful because our programs go beyond tutoring and include more than what is offered in most special education programs. We focus on improving the underlying processing problems identified by the IEP and provide clear steps parents can take next to help their child.

We are unique because we work with your child’s school and special education advocate to create a personalized learning plan that enhances your child’s IEP goals while simultaneously improving cognitive and processing skills to build a strong learning foundation.

Contact us today to learn more about if Hardy Brain Training is a good fit for you and your child, and, as an additional resource to help, we also have a free online diagnostic quiz to help identify the key areas where your child may be struggling.