Do you need an Advocate for your child in Special Education?
Sometimes understanding the special education system can feel like you are drowning in a sea. Are you looking for someone willing to give you a helping hand in the sea of special education (or throw you a life preserver)? Are you a parent of a child with a disability that needs an advocate to help you in advocating for the needs and rights of your child with your school district?
How can I get the Youth Advocate to attend school meetings with me?
To have the Youth Advocate attend any type of meeting outside of our office, you would need to register your child as a consumer of IVCIL. This would be the process of coming into our center and meeting with the Youth Advocate, going over your child's current IEP and opening a file for your child. To be an active consumer, you would have to set and work on a goal for your child during each quarter of the year. IVCIL is a consumer driven center and we rely on your involvement to keep your child's file active. To keep your child as an active consumer, there would have to be an active goal with a target date that hasn't past in each quarter.
What is the Youth Advocate's advocacy style?
As the IVCIL Youth Advocate, I believe that you are your child’s first and best advocate. I will assist in advocating at your child’s school meetings in the following ways:
I will act as a mediator between family and school
I will explain, clarify or ask questions for family or school when I perceive there is confusion, misunderstanding or a communication barrier with the other party
I will make sure the parental concerns agenda is covered if I’m provided a copy
I will bring up arguments for the IDEA law and the Illinois Special Education laws, to be sure they are followed
I will step in to speak for the parent if they are having a hard time being understood, too emotional to speak for themselves, or to ask for a break when emotions are running high
I will take notes to record items of special interest
I will act as a team member of the IEP team, along with the parents.
What are parents asked to agree with?
It is the goal of the Youth Advocate to communicate in a cooperative, non-threatening, non-aggressive manner, however assertive when necessary. This style of advocacy works best to bring about a collaborative, successful, respectful relationship within the IEP team. As the old adage goes – you get more bees with honey than vinegar.
The Youth Advocate does not support communicating in an aggressive, threatening or verbally abusive manner (bad language). This would include reading a letter or making statements that would tear down or attack the character of school personnel. Arguments can be addressed in a way that would be objective, by just giving details of incidents, rather than opinions of a person’s performance.