Your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is what drives your child’s educational instruction and ensures that s/he has access to the same educational opportunities as every other child.
As a member of the IEP team, you are your child’s best advocate, making sure that the proper supports are in place to work toward learning goals that are meaningful and educationally appropriate. It’s not always easy, but there are steps you can take to ensure that your child’s educational needs are being met in a way that reflects his/her individual strengths, needs and priorities for learning.
Documents, doctors’ reports, IEPs and other papers will grow over the years, so be sure to keep them filed and organized so that you know where to look for what you need, when you need it.
Keep a written record of the specific things you notice with your child that cause you concern – such as new behaviors and any solutions you might have that relate to your child’s IEP.
Communicate in Writing
Poor communication and unclear expectations can create big issues down the road. Sending a letter of understanding after a meeting is one way to avoid these misunderstandings.
For day-to-day information sharing, some parents send a notebook to school, with notes and information that’s helpful to school staff, such as something new that’s happened at home. School staff can then send notes back as needed.
If you’ve agreed to a program that’s not having the results you’d hoped for, and the school district doesn’t want to change its approach, it’s a good idea to ask for outside help from other parents or advocates.
Parent to Parent (P2P)
At any age, but particularly birth-high school transition, Parent to Parent (P2P) will connect you with a parent who has experienced the same struggles you’re going through right now. P2P also offers free workshops, trainings and one-on-one help in navigating complex systems.
PAVE (Partnerships in Action, Voices for Empowerment)
PAVE is a parent organization that offers support, advocacy, training and informational resources to empower individuals with disabilities and their families. By serving parents/caregivers, families/relatives, individuals with disabilities and/or special needs and professionals in Washington State through a range of programs and services.
The Office of the Education Ombuds (OEO)
OEO resolves complaints impartially and confidentially and works with all parties involved to find collaborative solutions focusing on the student’s best interest and his/her academic success. Other functions of OEO include: collecting data and making public policy recommendations to elected officials, promoting family engagement in education and identifying strategies to close the achievement gap. (1-866-297-2597)