“My Job as an Advocate is to teach the Parent how to do my Job”
As an advocate, my ideal clients are the parents who are invested to learn how to do my job so they eventually don’t need me anymore.
Now that may surprise you, but it is ABSOLUTELY true!
The ultimate outcome that every good advocate should aspire to create is this…
To successfully teach parents how to advocate for their own child so they no longer need an advocate to assist them.
Conversely, most business professionals say to me, “Valerie, with this kind of thinking, you will put yourself out of business!” However, this could not be further from the truth.
The need for special education advocacy is so great, that I could never help all the parents who ask for my assistance. This is why it is of the utmost importance for me to chose the parents I work with by setting a clear expectation for the parent to accept the responsibility of learning how to become a strong parent advocate for their own child.
Furthermore, this is also a good rule of thumb for parents when they are considering hiring an advocate. A good advocate will be willing to take the time to educate the parent on their parent rights, and the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process.
As a best practice of mine, I believe that ideal clients are parents who are open to learn and have good listening skills. I believe it is unethical to simply do my job and close the case without teaching the parent the skills required to maintain the IEP after I am no longer assisting the family.
When parents listen to what I teach them as we move through the development of their child’s special education program, they are building their knowledge base and becoming empowered as a parent advocate.
It will not help the student, nor will my services be successful, when parents are not invested to do the work. If parents are not invested to learn their parent rights, as soon as I close the case the district will revert back to the same tactics, and the parents will lose whatever supports and services I obtained.
Unless a parent intends on keeping an advocate until their child graduates high school, parent education is vital to maintain the program after an advocate has done their job. The wise parent will listen and learn with a focused intent on coming to a place when they no longer need my services, because they have gained the skills to maintain the program after I have closed the case.
When parents call me to discuss their child’s IEP and review the problems they are experiencing, if they end up telling me, “I already know how to advocate and my child has a great program, but…”, I immediately red flag that parent and proceed with caution.
Any profession requires knowledge, experience, and credentials. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is an entire universe of legal mandates, and a complex bureaucracy filled with the politics of special education. Unless, a parent has done the work to educate themselves regarding IDEA and has a good understanding of the IEP process, that parent is most likely just beginning on their journey as a parent advocate.
I have often said, “Many parents don’t know what they don’t know”, and this is a good example of this kind of situation.
In order to have a good experience with an advocate, there are TWO requirements that are the foundation for a successful outcome which is this:
- The advocate must be experienced and knowledgeable with a successful track record and the parent must have an open mind to learn from their advocate, and be able to implement what they have learned.
- The partnership between a qualified advocate and a parent who is willing to learn and apply what they have learned to their own child’s IEP, will create a win/win for both parties.
With both of these requirements in place, the advocate will have completed their job with fidelity and the parent will be empowered as a strong parent advocate for their child.
Would you like to set yourself up on the fast-track to becoming an empowered parent advocate for your child?
CHECK OUT this quick video where I share more about how you can be an advocate for your own child and why you need to learn to be.
Would you like to Schedule a Consultation with me to get the answers you need regarding your child’s Individualized Special Education Program?