Special Education Advocate

Every child has the right to an equal and quality education that prepares them for meaningful employment, higher education, and to be a successful community member. The special education education advocate works with the school on behalf of the family to make sure the student's needs are being met at school. 

Role of Advocate: 

Special education advocates help guardian(s) to make sure a child’s special needs are met. They help parents understand available services, interpret test results, and work with schools to plan individualized education programs (IEPs).

For a student with special needs, learning concerns take many forms. A special education advocate helps families address previously identified learning challenges, as well as pinpoint overlooked factors that may be affecting a child’s ability to learn. These include:

Responsibilities of Advocate:

The main responsibility of an advocate is to empower families and give a voice to students. A special education advocate performs the following duties:

How Advocates Help Families:

A complex and ever-changing system of federal, state, and local laws, plus policies and regulations, oversee special education. These laws, policies, and regulations detail:

Each of these aspects of special education involves a process, and each process is governed by rules and regulations. Special education advocates help families navigate not only the laws but also the processes by which schools implement legislation. Their expertise gives parents a chance to participate in their children’s education.

Why are Advocates needed?

Parents typically often lack knowledge of these ever-changing systems, laws, and best practices. Furthermore, schools use a litany of terms and abbreviations—for example, CSE (committee on special education) or IFSP (individualized family service plan)—that can leave parents struggling to keep up in discussions about their children’s special needs. Special education advocates fill in knowledge gaps.

Additionally, parents often display sensitivity when dealing with issues regarding their children. Advocates assist parents who may feel emotionally overwhelmed.

Advocates also help parents gauge their children’s progress. In situations when parents believe their children may be stalling or even regressing, special education advocates guide parents through the steps to address the situation.