Special education advocates

Who are special education advocates?

  • Some advocates are parents who have gone through the special education system. Some are former special education teachers. Usually they are not lawyers, but they are trained to know when to refer you to a lawyer.

  • There is no official certification for advocates, but a good one will have done some training with an organization like Families Helping Families or the Advocacy Center. They are trained to help negotiate and to know when to refer you to a lawyer.

A good advocate:

  • Is well-trained and knows the law

  • Understands disabilities

  • Understands your school system

  • Takes time to know your child

  • Empowers you

  • Acts professionally

If you want to talk to an advocate, ask your school district contact to put you in touch with one. Or ask Families Helping Families.

You can also use databases from COPAA and Wrightslaw to find advocates near you.*

Make sure to ask about cost. Some advocates work for free or on a sliding scale, others charge a fee.

*We do not endorse any of the providers listed on these databases.

Before you hire an advocate:

  • Make sure they are experienced, know about your child's school district and disability, and that they take the time to get to know your family

  • Ask about their fees. Advocates in Massachusetts usually charge about $60-90 per hour

  • Ask for references from other families they have worked with

  • Ask for a written agreement outlining their responsibilities and fees

Tell your IEP team in advance if you plan to bring an advocate to the meeting.

 

Sources: Families Helping Families, Advocacy LA, FCSN

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