Special Education Advocacy

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The Alliance for Children's Rights would like to invite you and your colleagues to a Special Education Advocacy training to be held on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, at The Alliance's offices. The training will begin at 5:00 PM and will last 2 hours. Attendees will receive 2 hours of CLE credit for attending this training, which covers the basic aspects of representing a client in securing special education services. Cases for pro bono placement will be available for those interested in volunteering on a case.

A short description of the program follows. Please feel free to pass this along to your colleagues.

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP with Diego Cartagena by emailing d.cartagena@kids-alliance.org.

Alliance for Children's Rights Special Education Advocacy Training

Children in foster care with disabilities face unique challenges within the special education system. For example, because of numerous foster care placement changes, many of their important school documents may be lost. They are often not tested appropriately or frequently enough for their service providers to have an adequate understanding of their needs. In addition, these children are more likely than other disabled students to have inappropriate education programs due to not having a consistent and knowledgeable caregiver to successfully advocate for their needs. Because of this dual disadvantage of being a student with a disability who is also in the foster care system, these children are in desperate need of advocates to ensure schools meet the legal mandate to provide each student with a free and appropriate public education ("FAPE") tailored to meet his or her unique needs.

The Alliance's Special Education Program relies on volunteers to assist foster children with disabilities access appropriate education placements and support services. Volunteers have the opportunity to represent a child to obtain an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Advocacy may consist of the following:

  • Gathering and reviewing education related documents.
  • Requesting a child's school conduct an evaluation of any areas of suspected disability.
  • Working with an Alliance attorney to devise an advocacy plan for the IEP meeting.
  • Negotiating with the child's school at the IEP meeting for the provision of services.
  • Monitoring the case for compliance with the IEP.

In preparation for advocating on a case, volunteers are provided manuals, legal resources, and sample documents, and receive ongoing support and guidance from Alliance staff attorneys. Special education cases typically require a time commitment of approximately 35 to 45 hours over a period of about three months, and require no court room appearances. Finally, individuals interested in volunteering do not need to be licensed in California to undertake this advocacy.