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  • Writer's pictureLaura Jones

Why Professional Advocacy? Good question.

Often times parents wonder what a professional advocate may provide their child. It's a good question to ask any advocate you are thinking of hiring. What do they think they bring to the table for a child?

There are multiple answers, and selecting the right advocate may well depend on what you and your child feel will help your child in their particular circumstances. These are my answers:

  1. Even out the power structure in the meeting room. School meetings, and particularly IEP's, are often imbalanced. One or two parents and then a school team consisting of at least a building administrator, case load provider, general education teacher and often several other professionals from the staff. Theoretically, all people at the table are on your child's side. Realistically, human nature may place you at odds with the team or at least not feeling like a real part of it when it comes to decisions. This imbalance may stem from differing opinions, or things as simple as you not understanding the process, not following the acronyms or being unaware of the correct procedures required. When, as a parent, you are feeling disadvantaged, a professional advocate may provide you the strength and knowledge to sit at the table on a more equal footing, and help you be heard on an equal team footing. Knowledge of the process and rules matters.

  2. Know the process. There are established processes for special education, disciplinary issues and 504 plans. There are even established norms for functional behavior analyses and behavior plans. Knowledge of these keeps everyone focused on following them and providing your child with what they need.

  3. Your child's ally at the table. I present your child, as you and I both experience them, to the team in ways they understand as educators and ways which require them to consider the information. There are established norms in special education and evaluations and adhering to them is to your child's advantage. It requires knowledge of the process, and the willingness and ability to educate those who are not aware, even it's still staff who are deficient. Your child needs a strong ally.

  4. Mission driven for your child. I am not there to score points, win battles or any other agenda. I am mission driven and the mission is always the same; see that your child's unique and demonstrable needs are understood and met. This ensures a quality educational opportunity for your child.

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