How to Advocate for Your Child

You know your child better than anyone else.

Parents are natural advocates for their children.

YOU are your child’s first teacher and most important role model. You are also responsible for your child’s welfare and have your child’s best interests at heart. You know your child better than anyone else. The professionals who work with your child are involved for only a few years. You are involved with your child for life. With the right information you will play an active role in planning your child’s future. The following information will help you develop your advocacy skills.

  • Gather information
  • Learn the rules of the game
  • Plan and prepare
  • Keep organized written records
  • Ask questions; Listen to answers
  • Identify problems
  • Propose solutions
  • Plan for the future

 

DEVELOP A MASTER PLAN

Do not expect school personnel to make long-term plans for your child — this is your responsibility.

Begin by thinking about your vision for your child’s future. What are your long-term goals for your child? What will your child need to learn? What services and supports will your child need to meet these goals?

 

KEEP GOOD RECORDS

Good records are essential to effective advocacy! Your log should include telephone calls and meetings, conversations, and correspondence between you and the school. Keep copies of all letters, reports, and consent forms. If you have kids with special educational needs, you can be overwhelmed by the paperwork in no time at all. Make sure you understand the relative importance of different documents and organize them sensibly.

 

TRAIN YOURSELF TO WRITE THINGS DOWN

Documentation that supports your position is a key to resolving disputes early. Your tools are simple:

Logs
Use a log to document all contacts between you and the professionals. Your log should include telephone calls, messages, meetings, letters, e-mails and notes between you and the professionals.

Your log is a record of:

  • Whom you met or talked with
  • When the contact occurred
  • What you wanted
  • What you were told

You can use a log to document problems and to document conversations and meetings.

You can use a bound or loose-leaf notebook as a log. Be consistent!
TIP: If you use an electronic log, be sure to back up your files on more than one computer. Print the log often.

Calendars
Calendars can provide good evidence about meeting dates and times.
TIP: Do not throw your calendar away at the end of the year!

Journals
Your journal is like a diary and should be clear and legible.