Many people do not know that there are people out there certified to advocate for your student's learning needs. As a teacher of seven years, I had never heard of a Special Education Advocate until I joined the Teachers to Tutor team.
What is a Special Education Advocate?
An advocate is someone, usually a previous educator, who has studied in the field of special education and many advocates actually hold a license to prove their certification. Previous teachers are usually the best advocates because they have experience with different learning needs based on their work. For example, a diagnosis of Autism or Dyslexia, would be something that teachers have experience with firsthand.
Who needs a Special Education Advocate?
Anyone with an IEP should have an advocate because often times schools rush through IEP meetings and parents are left not know what services are received or available for their student. Often times, IEP meetings can be viewed as just another meeting for teachers because they have so many meetings all throughout the day. Advocates can also inform parents of services that are available to the student, but the school might not be providing. If your student has an IEP, you will see many terms that are acronyms or might not make sense to a parent with no background in the education setting who has studied the education laws.
What does an advocate do?
Your advocate will meet and tutor your student to get to know them better to know what services they may need.
Your advocate will read through the IEP and walk through each section with the parent to ensure they understand every part of the IEP. Individualized education plans can often be wordy and full of education jargon. Parents can feel comfortable and safe talking to an advocate that is a more relaxed setting then a formal IEP meeting. If the advocate knows that the school has other resources such as small group class, intervention groups, or other accommodations then that will be discussed between the parent and advocate before attending the IEP meeting.
Advocates can attend the IEP meeting with the parent to listen and ensure students are getting all accommodations and modifications. An advocate knows what the school can offer due to their educational background and certification. The advocate can also be the voice for the parent and ask questions that probe further explanation from the school. This process is usually the parent's job but often times in the changing education world, parents are not informed at all of the services that can be provided. The advocate can also just be at the meeting for support. The advocates job in the meeting is dependent on the IEP and the initial meeting with the parent and advocate.
Advocates are there to help ensure that your student is receiving all of the services that are provided and beneficial for them. Having an advocate on your team allows for you to truly understand what your student's IEP says and what their school day looks like.
Contact us today to get in touch with our wonderful advocacy team!
Written by - Elizabeth Burton