Commonly asked questions and answers pertaining Educational Advocacy
Q: What is an Educational Advocate?
A: An Educational Advocate is a committed professional who helps parents obtain FAPE (free appropriate public education) for children with disabilities.
Q: What is FAPE?
A: Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is an educational right of children with disabilities in the United States that is guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Q: Why do I need an Educational Advocate?
A: Individual Education Program (IEP) and Section 504 meetings can be overwhelming. Often members of these teams do not have all the answers. A professional Educational Advocate can provide a different point of view, new ideas, and bridge communication gaps between the parents and other members of the team when communications are strained or have dissolved altogether. Also, an Educational advocate can draft written communication, assemble documentation to prove a need, and help determine educational targets in the IEP. An Advocate can guide parents through the process, explain your rights in a way that is easy to understand.
Q: Can an Advocate help me to gain confidence when meeting with school officials?
A: Yes. A trained and competent Educational Advocate provides you with the assurance and confidence that you have the expertise of a professional educator-advocate working on your behalf during long, intimidating, emotionally charged, and complex meetings. An Advocate's in-depth knowledge of special education and Section 504 laws, procedures, and interventions allows the parent the opportunity to focus on the child and his or her needs, rather than attempting to handle a wide range of issues, challenges, personalities, and hidden agendas.
Q: What is the Difference between a 504 Plan and an IEP?
A: There are two laws that govern children who have been identified with disabilities: Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities if the educational institution receives federal funding. It ensures that children identified with a disability have equal access to an education. Children under Section 504 can receive accommodations and modifications. Examples of accommodations can include sitting a child at the front of the class or reducing the number of problems a child has to complete. Section 504 does not require the school to provide an individualized educational program (IEP) and has fewer procedural safeguards.
IDEA is a voluntary Federal Special Education Act in which states elect to participate to receive federal funds. This law prohibits the discrimination against children with specials needs who are trying to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education. There is not a specific provision for children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and they may fall under the "Other Health Impaired" subsection. In order for a child to be governed by IDEA it must be shown that their disability is substantially limiting them from receiving a Free and Appropriate Education. This could include a learning disability, an emotional disability or more than one clinical disability such as ADHD and Childhood Depression. IDEA provides an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and is similar to a medical treatment plan. The IEP should include present levels of performance, goals and objectives to address these issues, how those goals will be measured, related services, and directs placement either through testing or observation and qualified measurements of progress. The IEP is reviewed at least once a year to determine the progress of the child, however, a parent can call a review meeting any time if they feel the child is not progressing.