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Advocate

"I learned that with a little patience and a network of info and providers, we are our child's strongest advocate.  Advocating can be challenging, what keeps us strong?  Remembering...We DON'T have the burden of raising a special needs child...

...we have the exhilerating opportunity to raise a child with special needs!"

The first step to advocating for your child is to know your rights, and the laws that protect them:

  • The right to full partnership with your child's providers in planning for your child's future,
  • The right to question decisions made concerning your child,
  • The right to an appropriate education for your child at public expense,
  • The right to inspect and challenge your child's school records,
  • The right for your child to receive all the benefits and privileges granted to average children,
  • The right to a due process hearing when you do not agree with school placement decisions, to name a few...

Source: How to Get Services by Being Assertive, published by Family Resource Center on Disabilities.

The right to be in public school continues until age 21 (and until end of that school year)  
Source: www.protectionandadvocacy-sc.org/When%20Child%20Grows%20Up%20%20Rev%2010-05.doc

Council For Exceptional Children www.cec.sped.org/pp/idea-a.htm 

Illinois Legal Aid lists several programs available for families
www.illinoislegalaid.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.dsp_content&contentID=223

Illinois Special Ed is "Dedicated to Helping the Parents of Illinois Special Education Children". They have info on Parents Groups, Child Advocates, Resource Organizations, Special Education Lawyers, and more...www.illinoisspecialed.com

Remember: Your child has the right to attend school in the Least Restrictive Environment that he/she can successfully learn in. You also have the right to stop an IEP meeting at any point of disagreement, with the right to reconvene at a later date (after you've had the chance to gather more info/support, etc.).

Additional steps to take throughout the year are: attend seminars, join parenting groups, prepare for and attend all IEP meetings, get to know your child's providers and school staff, volunteer in their classroom if possible, and exercise your right to vote.

 

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