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How to Be the Best A dvocate for Your C hild. By Dr. Paige K. Koos, EdD , LCSW, MSW, CAS. I ssues that may arise…. Learning issues that have been present over time ( ie : homework takes a LONG time)

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how to be the best a dvocate for your c hild

How to Be the Best Advocate for Your Child

By Dr. Paige K. Koos, EdD, LCSW, MSW, CAS

i ssues that may arise
Issues that may arise…
  • Learning issues that have been present over time (ie: homework takes a LONG time)
  • A diagnosis of ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety or depression (any private diagnosis from a counselor/physician)
  • Behaviors at home that are spilling into school and resulting in repeated discipline
  • A private educational or emotional/behavioral evaluation
  • Medical issues that are impacting how the student learns/functions during the day
  • Social issues that are impacting the child at school
trust your parent gut
Trust your “parent" gut
  • You have the best knowledge about your child’s skills
  • Share your concerns with school staff early on
  • Bring work samples or specific examples of their strengths and weaknesses
  • Share input/written letter from your pediatrician, therapist, tutor, etc. who may share your concern about your child’s functioning
assume the best
Assume the best
  • Usually, the school will be eager to work with you
  • If that is not the case, sometimes they need to understand the situation more fully
  • Or, you may need to seek out an educational ally to assist you
step one work with the school
Step One-Work with the school
  • Start by working with the teacher
  • Ask the principal to join any conferences or discussions where you are sharing details
  • Sometimes, teachers may/may not know the next step to take – but the principal should
  • There are other staff who could help as well:
    • Speech Pathologist
    • Social Worker
    • Reading Specialist
    • School Psychologist
    • Occupational Therapist
what could be next
What could be next?
  • Informal interventions – which should always be documented
  • Problem solving interventions – which should have a particular skill that is being targeted as well as data being collected
  • Case study evaluation – which determines whether a child’s needs (academic, emotional, behavioral, or medical) are significant enough to require accommodations and/or services
  • Formal plans – either Individualized Education Plans (special education) or Accommodations Plan (504 supports under the Americans with Disabilities Act)
what is the difference between plans
What is the difference between plans?
  • 504 plans – under the Americans with Disabilities Act
    • Used when there is a significant impact due to a medical or psychiatric diagnosis
    • Case manager is the teacher
    • Able to access special staff – speech pathologists, occupational therapists, etc.
  • Individualized Education Plans – under special education eligibility
    • Must meet educational criteria for at least 1 disability out of 13 possible recognized by the state of Illinois
    • Must require supports and services that are above and beyond a 504 plan
    • Must be a significant educational impact
how do i know which types of support are right
How do I know which types of support are right?
  • If the supports are appropriate you should see your child…
    • Enjoying school
    • Performing better than in the past
    • Making progress in the skills that they are teaching him
    • Feeling like they can handle what school “throws” at them
  • The staff should be…
    • Communicating with you regularly
    • Giving you the feeling that they understand and care about your child’s progress
    • Able to show you concrete evidence of why their interventions are/or are not working
in a perfect world
In a perfect world…
  • You would request support and it would be given! 
  • When that doesn’t happen, you need to do the following…
      • Involve the principal early on
      • Make sure more than one person understands your child’s needs
      • Insist that the discussions are written down and notes are documented each time you meet
      • Stay positive-you get more with honey
how to get more with honey
How to get more with honey
  • Be an active/collaborative member of your child’s school team
  • Request reasonable timelines and communication documentation
  • Don’t let an issue fester – get it dealt with ASAP
  • Ask ?’s at each meeting – if you don’t understand why something is or isn’t happening ask the school team. They are there to serve you.
  • Keep all documents given to you regarding your child. Insist that notes are written and they are reviewed before everyone adjourns the meting. It is important to clarify who is responsible for what, and what the timelines are.
when things don t go well
When things don’t go well..
  • Seek out support from the district office of student services or special education
  • Employ an educational advocate or someone who understands how schools operate
  • Outside professionals (evaluators/tutors/clinicians) may be well-meaning but may or may not understand how schools work
  • If you are beyond the point of being collaborative, enlist the help of someone who can be collaborative, yet firm.
what does an advocate do
What does an advocate do?
  • Act as liaison between the parent and the school team
  • Map out all the possible options for parents in terms of services and supports for their children
  • Attend meetings with parents to advocate for the child’s needs
  • Support the parents with solid and sound advice
  • Communicate with the school team on the parents’ behalf (if asked)
  • Be an expert in rights of parents and responsibilities of school staff
  • Paige’s website/contact information –

Paige K. Koos-Consulting, Counseling, & Advocacy

1288 Rickert Drive, Suite 220

Naperville, IL 60540