Simply put, my entire world changed for the better after I hired Valerie. She applied her wealth of knowledge, persistence, compassion, and connections to obtain for my child what I honestly consider to be the special education service ‘lotto.’ I was lost and confused trying to navigate the process on my own. I had nothing. My life was a mess. My child was teetering on the margin of being able to participate in education. With Valerie’s advocacy, my child now has the best education possible along with every support and service available to assist her with reaching her potential. Working with Valerie is the best decision I have ever made.
Until I hired Valerie, the school site completely ignored me even though I had given them a formal written request for an assessment. Despite numerous telephone calls to the principal and school psychologist asking for answers and accountability, I continued to be ignored for months after my request. Within days of hiring Valerie, district staff began to complete the assessments I had requested months prior and an IEP was finally scheduled. With Valerie by my side at the first IEP, accountability was enforced and everyone was on their toes.
Since my child was nowhere near ready to participate in a classroom environment, Valerie negotiated for the district to fund a one-on-one in-home applied behavioral analysis therapy program in order to transition my child into the school setting. That daily in-home program continues to this day, not only because my child continues to demonstrate the need for it but primarily because Valerie advocates on my child’s behalf and holds the district accountable to meet my child’s needs. This program has transformed my child to a place that we can now say her “special needs” are a mere fraction of what they used to be.
Among other services, my child was provided with a one-on-one district aide to support her at school to help with navigating difficult situations. Throughout the year, the district aide proved to be everything but competent. Even with the district aide present, my child’s behaviors disrupted the classroom and caused her to be a danger to herself and others while at recess. With Valerie’s advocacy, my child now has a non-public agency one-on-one aide with her throughout the day at school. The aide knows my child well because she is provided by the same agency which delivers her in-home program. Having a sufficiently qualified aide means far fewer (almost none) classroom disruptions and less worry for me that my child might be putting herself or others in harm’s way. My child is now getting the education she needs in a safe manner. I feel victorious!
The process of obtaining services does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing process that requires cooperation, negotiation, hard work, collaboration, and patience. I knew I was not an expert and I needed help. Looking back, I am so relieved I was not too proud to ask for help. There is no possible way I would be in the fortunate position of being successful in having the district fund the services my child needs without Valerie’s assistance. Being an advocate is not just a ‘job’ for Valerie. Rather, advocacy defines who Valerie is. She is by far the most amazing person I know. I’ve done my best to absorb what Valerie has taught me. From the start, I listened to her, trusted her, and turned over my concerns to her. She has consistently been reliable, dependable, knowledgeable, and she has never steered me wrong. My advice to anyone considering working with Valerie: don’t delay. There is no time to lose when your child’s best interest and education that leads to an independent future are at stake.
Tara, Inland Empire