Question: How does the advocacy process begin? What can we expect following contact?
Following your initial call, email, or “contact” request; here are the steps we follow:
- We will contact you within 24 hours
- Our initial “in-take” conversation or email will identify:
- Where do you live? What district are you supported by?
- What concerns cause you to contact us?
- Tell us about the child you are concerned about.
- When would you be available for a consultation contact?
- Do you have documents, information, or assessments to share online?
- A consultation session may be scheduled to determine: (Nominal fee be applied to Package A or B)
- Creating a Strategic Plan moving forward
- Determining how our services may be able to support you:
- Direct Advocacy (Package B)
- Consultation (Package A)
- Hourly Support
- Afterwards, an in-depth review of the documentation and related assessments will follow
- An extensive Strategic Planning Session will be scheduled through Conference Call with Client
- Introduction to the School; usually attached to the Information Release form, will be scheduled
- Meeting with the School and involved staff members as soon as possible
Simply put, an IEP (individualized education plan) is a by-product of a special education evaluation process determining specially designed instruction (SDI) for your child. Through a specific learning disability or within the context of health-physical related impairments, your child would receive special education assistance above and beyond the general education program. Whereas, the Section 504 process is designed for students who also have an impairment significantly impacting learning, though accommodations fall within the general education arena and do not require “SDI”. Based upon my experience, 504 Plans are a greater challenge for parents due to the general nature of the process; some teachers and staff are right on with accommocations and support while others are reluctant and resistant to changes in instruction or class management. Negotiating well written 504 Plans are very difficult for most parents for one doesn’t often know exactly what to ask for or what is a reasonable accommodation.
FYI: Both IEP and 504 Plan consideration address the same questions within the evaluation process:
1. Does the student have a diagnosis by a licensed clinician or a disability assessment by the school? If YES, move to question 2
2. Does the diagnosis or disability present an impairment within one of life’s experiences such as school? If YES, move to question 3
3. Would accommodations through a 504 Plan or / and Specially Designed Instruction through an IEP be most appropriate?
Working with an advocate through the process described above provides experience, knowledge, and expertise to navigate the questions guiding both 504 and IEP meetings.
This is the $64,000 question … (or more like a $20,000 retainer)