Help with IEP for parents and children with special needs

Parents are critical to the IEP process considering they are the expert on their child. They are often not included in the planning of their child’s educational needs even though it is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. Children with disabilities often need special accommodations and modifications in the classroom in order for them be successful in school and receive a free and appropriate public education that best suits their special needs. Parents often complain that the educators do not include them in the process, the teachers use jargon that the parents do not understand, and often have everything planned before the parent arrives at the meeting. Considering the barriers parents face in being involved in and participating in their child’s IEP, this project created a brochure for parents who are just beginning the IEP process. The project developer took the lead to research the literature and collaborate with a school administrator, an advocate, a parent and a LMFT to help develop this brochure that defines unfamiliar terms that are used by educators, lays out a general agenda of an IEP, provides helpful hints, identifies channels of how to request an IEP meeting, the IEP timeline, and resources to gain access to the parent and child’s legal rights. The larger goal is to move towards a paradigm shift where the parent and child can lead the IEP process; however, this is an important interim step towards helping empower parents with information critical to their engagement and voice in the IEP process.