Helpful Strategies for Parents Advocating for Special Education Services

 In Education

Joan Harrington, the founder of EASE, Educational Advocacy Services, provides insight and helpful strategies for parents advocating for special education services for their child(ren). In this video, Joan will first go over children’s rights to special education services under federal law. Then she will explain how to attain services for Preschool Aged and School Aged children. 

Entitled to Services

The Board of Education is required by law to provide services to any and all children in need of special education services. They receive funding from the federal government in order to provide these special education services. Any child who is diagnosed with a disability is entitled to these services. However, to be clear, your child is not entitled to the best services. The law only guarantees that your child receives a free and appropriate education by their local school district. Nevertheless, a child’s education should still maximize their individual learning potential. This is where many parents can become frustrated with the services being provided to their child.

Preschool Aged Special Education

The Committee on Preschool Special Education works with children ages 2.9-5. These are children who are again out of Early Intervention. Children who did receive Early Intervention services transition seamlessly into these Preschool Aged Services. A child in this age range is likely to receive more services than a “school aged child”. This is because these services can address the social , behavioral, and educational needs of the child. When the child reaches age 5, these services begin to simply address the academic needs of the child. At this age, children do not have a harsh label attached to them concerning their specific disability. They are simply classified as “preschoolers with a disability.” Younger children can receive services in a regular preschool program or at home based on the preference of the parent.

School Aged Special Education

School Aged children are children five years or older. If your child received preschool services then there is an automatic flow to receive services as a school aged child. However, children are still entitled to an evaluation if they did not previously receive services. At that point, you would send your written request via registered mail to the Committee on Special Education in the school district in which your child attends school. At that point, there are deadlines the committee must adhere to. As the parent you must decide which evaluations you wish to request for your child. Then, a meeting is held and an IEP or IESP is constructed for your child.

What is an IESP and an IEP?

An Individualized Education Services Program (IESP) makes the parent(s) responsible to find and execute the special education services that are recommended for the child. IESP’s are normally constructed in private school settings. They also normally lack recent evaluations. Conversely, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) makes the school district responsible for administering an appropriate education that includes special education services.

First, the IEP goes over the results from the most recent evaluations conducted. Next, you will review your child’s academic achievement performance in the classroom. This information will be provide by your child’s teacher an/or special education provider. Next you will go over the child’s social development. This information will be provided by a combination of the teacher(s) and the parent(s). Lastly, you will review the child’s physical development. Once again, this information will be provided by both the parent(s) and teacher(s). Each of these sections includes a spot to highlight the child’s strengths. It is essential that you make note of those for each section. You will also go over special factors, additional evaluations, annual goals, and special education recommendation.

For more information, this video goes into even greater detail on how parents can access special education services for their children.

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