The Educational Advocate will provide support to families who are navigating the Special Education process. The individual in this role will be responsible for ensuring that parents are knowledgeable about their child’s right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under Federal Special Education Law (IDEA) and will empower parents to take an active role in identifying and securing appropriate services within the appropriate school setting. This individual will also help to facilitate collaborative relationships between parents/guardians and school personnel using best practices in Special Education Advocacy.
The Educational Advocate must be knowledgeable about all facets of Federal (IDEA) and State (Chapter 71B) Laws as well as related State and Federal Regulations. This role also requires the ability to communicate effectively with parents, guardians, students and school personnel to insure that students are receiving appropriate services in the Least Restrictive Environment. The Educational Advocate will be responsible for reviewing current and proposed Individualized Education Program (IEP) as well as evaluation reports and recommendations completed by school and specialized personnel and should have a moderate understanding of frequently used evaluation methods and terminology. The Educational Advocate should have experience supporting children and families with diverse needs and have the ability to research and identify potential resources and supports for individuals with disabilities.
• Responsibly represent the best interest(s) of the client/clients and assist families in making informed choices about their child’s education.
• Read and interpret Individualized Education Plans and evaluation documentation.
• Empower families to take an active role in their child’s education by sharing and interpreting relevant state and federal special education laws, regulations and mandates.
• Provide training opportunities to parents, guardians, transition aged youth and community members around special education topics and best practices.
• Support families in identifying strengths and concerns and creating goals and vision that are appropriate for their child’s specific abilities.
• Maintain client/clients records, and keeps client/clients information confidential at all times adhering to any/all Federal or applicable State requirements
• Partner and maintain collaborative relationships with local school districts through targeted outreach.
• Develop professional relationships with Special Education Parent Advisory Councils, Disability and Education focused community based organizations and potential resources for child and family.
• Access necessary, available resources to appropriately address the needs of diverse clientele.
• Utilize agency resources and attend professional development opportunities.
• Research and remain knowledgeable about changes to special education laws and regulations as well as pertinent advisories and Board of Special Education Appeals decisions.
• Build capacity in families by teaching strategies for effective communication with school personnel, including conflict resolution techniques.
• Locate and refer to other appropriate professionals when client/clients’ needs require training, knowledge and or skills outside the Advocate’s experience and or expertise.
Refer and support parents and families in accessing and pursuing Due Process Rights in issues or disputes involving concerning the eligibility, evaluation, placement, individualized education program (IEP), provision of special education, or procedural protections of state and federal law for students with disabilities