to Advocate for Your Child
Parents are natural advocates for their children. YOU are your child’s
first teacher and most important role model. You are also responsible
for your child’s welfare and have your child’s best interests
at heart. You know your child better than anyone else. The professionals
who work with your child are involved for only a few years. You are
involved with your child for life. With the right information you will
play an active role in planning your child’s future. The following
information will help you develop your advocacy skills.
LEARN THE RULES OF THE GAME
PLAN AND PREPARE
KEEP WRITTEN RECORDS
ASK QUESTIONS; LISTEN TO ANSWER
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
DEVELOP A MASTER PLAN
Do not expect school personnel to make long-term plans for your child -- this
is your responsibility.
Begin by thinking about your vision for your child's future. What
are your long-term goals for your child? What will your child need
to learn? What services and supports will your child need to meet these
KEEP GOOD RECORDS
Good records are essential to effective advocacy! Your log should include telephone
calls and meetings, conversations, and correspondence between you and the school.
Keep copies of all letters, reports, and consent forms. If you have kids with
special educational needs, you can be overwhelmed by the paperwork in no time
at all. Make sure you understand the relative importance of different documents
and organize them sensibly. Here are some guidelines to help you manage them:
You will need these supplies to get started:
Two 3-ring notebooks (one for your child’s file; one for information
about your child’s disability and educational information)
Package of sticky notes
Small tape recorder.
TRAIN YOURSELF TO WRITE THINGS DOWN!
Documentation that supports your position is a key to resolving disputes early.
Your tools are simple:
Use a log to document all contacts between you and the professionals. Your
log should include telephone calls, messages, meetings, letters, e-mails
and notes between you and the professionals.
Your log is a record of:
· Whom you met or talked with
· When the contact occurred
· What you wanted
· What you were told
You can use a log to document problems and to document conversations
You can use a bound or loose-leaf notebook as a log. Be consistent!
you use an electronic log, be sure to back up your files on more than one
computer. Print the log often.
Calendars can provide good evidence about meeting dates and times.
not throw your calendar away at the end of the year!
Your journal is like a diary and should be clear and legible.