I am not an expert on IEPs or Individualized Education Plans. My son is starting his school career, and we have a very simple IEP. What is an IEP? It is a plan developed for any child who needs special education services. Foster parents who foster school-aged children will need to become familiar with an IEP. My experience is limited. My son is in his last year of preschool, so we have been at this only a couple of years.
What my experience has taught me is that it is not an easy process. My son was in O-3 services for Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy (OT) Once he aged out of 0-3, I had to work with the school district. It was well known that kids were not getting into the regions developmental preschool because there was a higher need, then there were available spaces. The result, my son was enrolled in speech services, and not eligible for Occupational therapy. Since the district did not acknowledge his OT need, we were ineligible for developmental preschool. To be eligible, you had to have two areas of need.
Fast forward a year and a half, and we are on my son’s final year of preschool. Occupational therapy for my son has been intermittent because the waiting lists are so long. He is currently in OT for twelve visits. Finally, he will be re-evaluated by the school district to qualify for developmental preschool at the continued urging of his school district Speech therapist. This whole scenario has taught me that I need help. I need someone who knows what is going on, and who knows my son’s rights. Advocating for his educational needs is probably one of the most important places that I will ever advocate for my son, and I want to get it right.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest– Benjamin Franklin
#1 I did not realize such a thing existed
#2 I learned a lot from her blog. I mean A LOT!
I am currently looking for an advocate in my state to attend our assessment meeting. It is better to get an advocate involved and familiar with your case early on. The cost of an advocate can seem prohibitive and expensive, but my family is ready to make the sacrifices necessary to ensure my son has all his needs met. The fact that I am willing to pay these costs is not a judgment on families who are unable to pay $500/IEP meeting. It illustrates a glaring gap in the system where money can buy you a huge advantage. I think this service should be available to all parents needing an IEP for their children.
Education is the Passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today– Malcolm X
It is not that I do not trust the school district. They have a lot of children to worry about it. It is that I do not want my son falling through the cracks. He has enough hurdles to overcome. This one is mine. I will take it on and fully prepare. If you can not afford an advocate look at the blog. It lists resources that are available by state. It led me to a many additional resources for my state. I have a lot of reading to do, but I already feel more confident and capable to deal with what is ahead.